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Update: The Ongoing Administration-Wide Response to the Deepwater BP Oil Spill


05/19/2010


Prepared by the Joint Information Center
UPDATED May 19, 2010, 7 PM



* For a full timeline of the Administration-wide response, visit the White House Blog.

PAST 24 HOURS

Secretary Salazar Divides MMS’s Three Conflicting Missions; Establishes Independent Agency to Police Offshore Energy Operations

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today signed a Secretarial Order that will lead to the fundamental restructuring of the Minerals Management Service and the division of its three conflicting missions into separate entities with independent missions to strengthen oversight of offshore energy operations, improve the structure for revenue and royalty collections on behalf of the American people, and help the country build a clean energy future.

Top Scientists Engaging Closely with BP’s Efforts to Cap the Leak

As a responsible party, BP is charged with capping their leaking oil well. However, the U.S. government is taking an active role to ensure that BP’s approach is as strong and as innovative as possible. The Department of Energy has engaged some of the world’s top scientific and engineering minds from Sandia, Los Alamos and Livermore Labs—to lend their expertise to BP’s efforts to cap the well and permanently stop the leak.

These government scientists are reviewing every plan on the table, validating those that are moving forward and providing additional expertise and input on new tactics.

Observations Indicate a Small Portion of Light Oil Sheen Has Entered the Loop Current

NOAA’s latest observations indicate that a small portion of the oil has reached the Loop Current in the form of light to very light sheens.

In the time it would take for oil to travel to the vicinity of the Florida Straits, any oil would be highly weathered and both the natural process of evaporation and the application of chemical dispersants would reduce the oil volume significantly. However, the oil may get caught in a clockwise eddy in the middle of the gulf, and not be carried to the Florida Straits at all.

The Coast Guard has confirmed that the tar balls collected yesterday in the Florida Keys did not originate with the BP oil spill.

1,000s of Oil Spill Cleanup Employee Safety Guides Distributed

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration is distributing thousands of safety guides and fact sheets to employees involved with the oil spill cleanup along the Gulf Coast.

The materials supplement OSHA-required training workers must receive before they can be hired to engage in the cleanup. In addition to English, the safety guides and fact sheets initially will be printed in Spanish and Vietnamese in recognition of the diverse population inhabiting the Gulf Coast region. They will be made available by BP’s education contractor, PEC, and OSHA officials at cleanup staging areas.

Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis is urging BP to hire local workers displaced by the oil spill, including fishermen and workers from the hospitality industry, many of whom have limited English proficiency.

Monitoring of Oil Flowing from Insertion Tube Continues

MMS is working with the BP engineers to monitor the flow of liquid from the riser insertion tube tool, or RITT, as it is brought onto the vessel Enterprise for containment and storage. They continue to inject methanol to prevent build up of hydrates, and additional methanol is being delivered to the Enterprise. Samples of the produced oil are being sent to Louisiana State University (LSU) for analysis.

Successful Burn Conducted

Favorable weather conditions allowed responders to conduct a successful controlled burn operation for the third consecutive day. As part of a coordinated response that combines tactics deployed above water, below water, offshore, and close to coastal areas, controlled burns efficiently remove oil from the open water in an effort to protect shoreline and wildlife.

By the Numbers to Date:

  • Personnel were quickly deployed and approximately 20,000 are currently responding to protect the shoreline and wildlife. 
  • More than 970 vessels are responding on site, including skimmers, tugs, barges, and recovery vessels to assist in containment and cleanup efforts—in addition to dozens of aircraft, remotely operated vehicles, and multiple mobile offshore drilling units. 
  • More than 1.38 million feet of containment boom and 530,000 feet of sorbent boom have been deployed to contain the spill—and approximately 380,000 feet of containment boom and 845,000 feet of sorbent boom are available.
  • Approximately 7.9 million gallons of an oil-water mix have been recovered. 
  • Approximately 655,000 gallons of total dispersant have been deployed—600,000 on the surface and 55,000 subsea. More than 310,000 gallons are available.
  • 17 staging areas are in place and ready to protect sensitive shorelines, including: Dauphin Island, Ala., Orange Beach, Ala., Theodore, Ala., Panama City, Fla., Pensacola, Fla., Port St. Joe, Fla., St. Marks, Fla., Amelia, La., Cocodrie, La., Grand Isle, La., Shell Beach, La., Slidell, La., St. Mary, La.; Venice, La., Biloxi, Miss., Pascagoula, Miss., and Pass Christian, Miss.
Resources:
  • To contact the Deepwater Horizon Joint Information Center, call (985) 902-5231. 
  • To volunteer, or to report oiled shoreline, call (866) 448-5816. Volunteer opportunities can also be found here.
  • To submit your vessel as a vessel of opportunity skimming system, or to submit alternative response technology, services, or products, call 281-366-5511. 
  • To report oiled wildlife, call (866) 557-1401. Messages will be checked hourly. 
  • To file a claim, or report spill-related damage, call BP’s helpline at (800) 440-0858. A BP fact sheet with additional information is available here. For those who have already pursued the BP claims process and are not satisfied with BP’s resolution, can call the Coast Guard at (800) 280-7118. More information about what types of damages are eligible for compensation under the Oil Pollution Act as well as guidance on procedures to seek that compensation can be found here.

For information about the response effort, visit www.deepwaterhorizonresponse.com.

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