Update: The Ongoing Administration-Wide Response to the Deepwater BP Oil Spill
| Key contact numbers
Deepwater Horizon Incident
Joint Information Center
Phone: (713) 323-1670
UPDATED July 22, 2010, 7:00 PM
* For a full timeline of the Administration-wide response, visit the White House Blog.
PAST 24 HOURS
Admiral Allen Directs Vessels and Rigs to Prepare to Move Out of Harm’s Way Due to the Risk Posed by Tropical Storm Bonnie
“Due to the risk that Tropical Storm Bonnie poses to the safety of the nearly 2,000 people responding to the BP oil spill at the well site, many of the vessels and rigs will be preparing to move out of harm’s way beginning tonight. This includes the rig drilling the relief well that will ultimately kill the well, as well as other vessels needed for containment. Some of the vessels may be able to remain on site, but we will err on the side of safety.
“As I stated earlier today, I have directed BP to continue with the well shut in procedure while the work to kill the well is temporarily suspended. I have also directed BP to take measures to ensure the vessels operating the ROVs are the last to leave, and the first to return in order to maximize monitoring of the well. Monitoring of the site during the well integrity test remains one of the government's highest priorities.
While these actions may delay the effort to kill the well for several days, the safety of the individuals at the well site is our highest concern. We are staging our skimming vessels and other assets in a manner that will allow us to promptly re-start oil mitigation efforts as soon as the storm passes and we can ensure the safety of our personnel.”
Vice President Biden Makes His Second Trip to the Gulf Coast
In his second trip to the Gulf Coast since the BP oil spill began, Vice President Joe Biden joined National Incident Commander Admiral Thad Allen in Theodore, Ala., to meet with response personnel, inspect boom and participate in a roundtable discussion with fisherman and small business owners. Click here to see photos of the visit.
Afterwards, the Vice President stressed the Administration’s commitment to restoring the Gulf Coast: “We’re not going to stop until this area, all the entire Gulf, has recovered; until the economy of the Gulf is revitalized and literally a way of life is restored. Because we’re not just talking about a natural ecosystem that’s in danger down here, we’re talking about an economic ecosystem. We’re also talking about a cultural ecosystem, a whole way of life,” he said. “Whatever it takes to make this Gulf right, we’re going to make it right.”
Rear Admiral Zukunft Provides Update on Severe Weather Response Plan
Federal On-Scene Coordinator Rear Admiral Paul Zukunft provided a briefing to inform Gulf Coast residents and answer questions about the impact weather is having on the ongoing response to the BP oil spill. The Unified Area Command is closely monitoring tropical weather—in consultation with the NOAA’s National Hurricane Center and FEMA—in order to ensure the safety of the more than 40,000 people currently assisting in the oil spill response effort.
To prepare for the possibility of severe weather, Zukunft has directed the movement of surplus response equipment to inland staging areas. These considerations are meant to protect people, boats, boom and other equipment while planning for the safe and speedy resumption of oil spill recovery after a storm. Yesterday, Zukunft sent a letter to local officials to provide an update on resource protection in case of a storm.
NOAA Re-Opens a Third of the Closed Fishing Area in Gulf Waters to Commercial and Recreational Fishing; Approximately 76 Percent of Gulf Waters Are Open
NOAA today re-opened 26,388 square miles of Gulf waters to commercial and recreational fishing—a third of the overall closed area—after consultation with FDA and under a re-opening protocol agreed to by NOAA, the FDA, and the Gulf States. The closed area now measures 57,539 square miles—or approximately 24 percent of the Gulf of Mexico exclusive economic zone. Before the southern area was re-opened, 83,927 miles—or roughly 35% of Gulf federal waters—were closed to fishing.
Since mid-June, NOAA data have shown no oil in the area, and Coast Guard observers flying over the area in last 30 days have also not observed any oil. Additionally, trajectory models show the area is at a low risk for future exposure to oil, and fish caught in the area and tested by NOAA experts have shown no signs of contamination.
NOAA will continue to take samples for testing from the newly re-opened area, and the agency has also implemented dockside sampling to test fish caught throughout the Gulf by commercial fishermen. Additionally, the NOAA research vessel Nancy Foster took water samples in and around the area proposed for re-opening during early to mid July. No surface sheens were observed and no unusual readings potentially indicative of oil were obtained during these activities.
NOAA will continue to evaluate the need for fisheries closures based on the evolving nature of the spill and will re-open closed areas as appropriate. And NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement (OLE) and the U.S. Coast Guard, in collaboration with state partners, continue to actively enforce the law in federal waters that have been closed to fishing—to balance economic and public health needs as a result of the BP oil spill. For more information about fishing closure enforcement, click here.
Personnel Continue Wildlife Rescue and Recovery Missions Across the Region
From the Houma, La., Incident Command Post, a total of 241 personnel, 83 vessels and four helicopters participated in reconnaissance and wildlife rescue and recovery missions. Shoreline clean-up operations continued on the northern Chandeleur Island chain, where crews removed 250 bags of oily sand and debris. From the Mobile, Ala., Incident Command Post, 201 volunteers searched for oil impacts and injured or oiled wildlife. To report oiled wildlife, call (866) 557-1401.
Approved SBA Economic Injury Assistance Loans Surpass $15 Million
SBA has approved 181 economic injury assistance loans to date, totaling more than $15 million for small businesses in the Gulf Coast impacted by the BP oil spill. Additionally, the agency has granted deferments on 707 existing SBA disaster loans in the region, totaling more than $3.7 million per month in payments. For information on assistance loans for affected businesses, visit the SBA’s Web site at www.sba.gov/services/disasterassistance, call (800) 659-2955 (800-877-8339 for the hearing impaired), or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Administration Continues to Oversee BP’s Claims Process
The administration will continue to hold the responsible parties accountable for repairing the damage, and repaying Americans who’ve suffered a financial loss as a result of the BP oil spill. To date, 123,457 claims have been opened, from which more than $234.9 million have been disbursed. No claims have been denied to date. There are 1,118 claims adjusters on the ground. To file a claim, visit www.bp.com/claims or call BP’s helpline at 1-800-440-0858. 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. Additional information about the BP claims process and all available avenues of assistance can be found at www.disasterassistance.gov.By the Numbers to Date:
- The administration has authorized the deployment of 17,500 National Guard troops from Gulf Coast states to respond to this crisis; currently, 1,653 are active.
- Approximately 41,200 personnel are currently responding to protect the shoreline and wildlife and cleanup vital coastlines.
- Nearly 4,300 vessels are currently 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 3.5 million feet of containment boom and 7.73 million feet of sorbent boom have been deployed to contain the spill—and approximately 821,000 feet of containment boom and 3.03 million feet of sorbent boom are available.
- More than 34.7 million gallons of an oil-water mix have been recovered.
- Approximately 1.84 million gallons of total dispersant have been applied—1.07 million on the surface and 771,000 sub-sea. Approximately 577,000 gallons are available.
- 411 controlled burns have been conducted, efficiently removing a total of more than 11.14 million gallons of oil from the open water in an effort to protect shoreline and wildlife. Because calculations on the volume of oil burned can take more than 48 hours, the reported total volume may not reflect the most recent controlled burns.
- 17 staging areas are in place to protect sensitive shorelines.
- Approximately 630 miles of Gulf Coast shoreline is currently oiled—approximately 364 miles in Louisiana, 107 miles in Mississippi, 70 miles in Alabama, and 89 miles in Florida. These numbers reflect a daily snapshot of shoreline currently experiencing impacts from oil so that planning and field operations can more quickly respond to new impacts; they do not include cumulative impacts to date, or shoreline that has already been cleared.
- Approximately 57,539 square miles of Gulf of Mexico federal waters remain closed to fishing in order to balance economic and public health concerns. More than 76 percent remains open. Details can be found at http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/.
- To date, the administration has leveraged assets and skills from numerous foreign countries and international organizations as part of this historic, all-hands-on-deck response, including Argentina, Belgium, Canada, China, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Qatar, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, the United Nations’ International Maritime Organization, the European Union’s Monitoring and Information Centre, and the European Maritime Safety Agency.
- For information about the response effort, visit www.restorethegulf.gov.
- For specific information about the federal-wide response, visit http://www.whitehouse.gov/deepwater-bp-oil-spill.
- 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.
- For information about validated environmental air and water sampling results, visit http://www.epa.gov/bpspill.
- For National Park Service updates about potential park closures, resources at risk, and NPS actions to protect vital park space and wildlife, visit http://www.nps.gov/aboutus/oil-spill-response.htm.
- For daily updates on fishing closures, visit http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov.
- 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.
- In addition, www.disasterassistance.gov has been enhanced to provide a one-stop shop for information on how to file a claim with BP and access additional assistance—available in English and Spanish.
- Any members of the press who encounter response personnel restricting their access or violating the media access policy set forth by Admiral Allen should contact the Joint Information Center. Click here for more information, including a list of regular embed opportunities.
- For information about the response effort, visit www.deepwaterhorizonresponse.com.
Salazar and Vilsack Announce Appointments to Wildlife and Hunting Heritage Conservation Council