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

Ed. Note: For more information on federal response resources, volunteer opportunities, and assistance for those in affected areas visit WhiteHouse.gov/Deepwater-BP-Oil-Spill. The latest updates will now be available on the Deepwater BP Oil Spill blog. This post was updated on 5/25/10 at 3:56PM.

Since the Deepwater Horizon explosion the night of April 20, federal authorities, both military and civilian, have been working onsite and around the clock to respond to and mitigate the impact of the resulting BP Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

We have compiled this chronology in the spirit of transparency so the American people can have a clear understanding of what their government has been and is doing to respond to the massive and potentially unprecedented environmental disaster.

Heidi Avery is White House Deputy Homeland Security Advisor

NIGHT OF TUESDAY, APRIL 20

Search and Rescue

The U.S. government response to the BP Oil Spill began immediately after the explosion on the night of April 20 as an emergency search-and-rescue mission. At approximately 10:30 p.m. that night, notification was received that Mobile Offshore Drilling Unit (MODU) Deepwater Horizon had exploded and was on fire. The rig was located 45 miles southeast of Venice, La.

Establish Command Center to Address Potential Environmental Impacts

Concurrently, the administration also quickly establishes a command center on the Gulf Coast to address the potential environmental impact of the event and to coordinate with all state and local governments. Since this point, the administration has continuously anticipated and planned for a worst-case scenario.

NOAA Mobilizes to Provide Trajectory Support

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) mobilizes within three hours of the explosion and started to provide trajectory support and coordinated scientific weather and biological response services. The NOAA weather forecast office in Slidell, La., also provided weather information to the Coast Guard at its request shortly after the explosion to support initial search-and-rescue operations.

The President is Alerted

The President is alerted to the event and he begins actively monitoring the situation. At the time, it was known that 126 people were on the rig when the explosion occurred.

Assets Deployed To Date

Total response vessels: Two Coast Guard cutters

Total response aircraft: Four helicopters and one rescue plane

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 21

Deputy Secretary of Interior David Hayes is Deployed to the Gulf Coast

The morning after the explosion, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar deployed Deputy Secretary David J. Hayes to the Gulf Coast to assist with coordination and response to the event, and provide hourly reports to Secretary Salazar and other administration officials.

Interagency Coordination Begins Across the Government, Federal On-Scene Coordinator is Named and Regional Response Team is Stood Up

Interagency coordination begins immediately among federal partners—including the Coast Guard; the Departments of Homeland Security (DHS), Commerce (DOC), Interior (DOI); and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)—providing federal assets and overseeing BP’s response. Pursuant to the National Contingency Plan, Rear Admiral Mary Landry was named the Federal On-Scene Coordinator and a Regional Response Team was stood up that included the U.S. Coast Guard, DHS, DOC/NOAA, DOI and the EPA, as well as state and local representatives. The Regional Response Team immediately began developing plans, providing technical advice and access to resources and equipment from its member agencies, and overseeing BP’s response.

The Administration Oversees BP’s Response

The administration begins holding meetings and regular calls with BP leadership to discuss BP’s response effort, as well as federal oversight and support, and urged BP to leverage additional assets to help respond to this event.

Interagency Joint DHS-DOI Investigation Begins

Secretary Salazar and Secretary Napolitano direct that a joint investigation begin into the cause of the event. The investigation, jointly led by the U.S. Coast Guard and the Minerals Management Service (MMS), are given subpoena power, will hold public hearings, and call witnesses. MMS and USCG begin interviewing rig personnel.

National Park Service Plans Contingencies to Protect Vulnerable Parks Along Gulf Coast

The National Parks Service (NPS) Spill Response Coordinator, Regional Emergency Services Coordinator, and Deputy Chief of Emergency Services begin strategic planning of contingencies to protect potentially vulnerable national parks along the Gulf Coast.

MMS Establishes Ops Center and Deploys Staff to BP and Transocean Command Posts

MMS establishes an Emergency Operations Center at its Gulf of Mexico Regional Office in New Orleans, and deployed employees to the BP Incident Command Post (ICP) and the Transocean ICP in Houston.

NOAA Selects Scientific Support Coordinator and Deploys Him to USCG Command Post

NOAA Environmental Scientist Charlie Henry arrive on site at the Coast Guard’s Command Post in Morgan City, La., to serve as NOAA’s Scientific Support Coordinator. NOAA issued the initial trajectory advice and began providing them twice daily.

The President is Briefed

The President monitors the response and is briefed throughout the day by the White House Situation Room

Search and Rescue Continues

Of the 126 total people on the rig at the time of the event, 115 crew members were accounted for. The Coast Guard continued to actively search for all 11 individuals still missing through the night, with multiple units, vessels and aircraft responding.

Daily Response On-Site Press Briefing Begins

The first in a daily series of press briefings was conducted between the Minerals Management Service (MMS), the Coast Guard, BP and Transocean.

Assets Deployed To Date

Total response vessels: Two Coast Guard cutters

Total response aircraft: Four helicopters and one rescue plane

Response Photos:

http://cgvi.uscg.mil/media/main.php?g2_itemId=836364

http://cgvi.uscg.mil/media/main.php?g2_itemId=836361

http://cgvi.uscg.mil/media/main.php?g2_itemId=835864

http://cgvi.uscg.mil/media/main.php?g2_itemId=837369

THURSDAY, APRIL 22

Deepwater Horizon Oil Rig Sinks

At approximately 10:22 a.m., the oil rig sank with approximately 700,000 gallons of diesel fuel on board.

The National Response Team (NRT) is Activated

On the afternoon of April 22, the National Response Team (NRT) convenes its first daily meeting with leadership from across the federal government, including the White House, U.S. Coast Guard, the Department of Defense, DHS, DOC, DOI and EPA, among others. The NRT is an organization of 16 federal departments and agencies responsible for coordinating emergency preparedness and response to oil and hazardous substance pollution events. During this event, NRT meetings have been run by Secretary Napolitano.

The President Convenes a Principal Level Meeting: “Treat This Response as The Number One Priority”

The President convenes a meeting in the Oval Office with principals across the government to discuss the situation and ongoing response efforts, and ordered that the administration use every single available resource at its disposal to respond to the event and investigate its cause. A readout was issued to press stating: “The President made sure that the entire federal government was offering all assistance needed in the rescue effort as well as in mitigating and responding to the environmental impact and that this response was being treated as the number one priority. The President asked the responding departments to devote every resource needed to respond to this incident and investigate its cause.”

The NRT Holds Second Meeting of the Day to Implement President Obama’s Instructions

Following the Oval Office meeting, the NRT holds a second evening meeting—again including the Coast Guard, the Department of Defense, DHS, DOC, DOI and EPA, among others.

No Apparent Leak

Air and sea restriction zones are established around the sink site for safety purposes. The Coast Guard conducted overflights and multiple unsuccessful dives were made with remote operated marine vehicles to find the wellhead. No leak was apparent.

Dispersants Are Pre-Positioned In Case Situation Worsens

Despite a lack of apparent leak, 100,000 gallons of dispersants are already pre-positioned between Stennis, Miss., Houma and Lake Charles, La., and pre-approved for use by EPA Regions VI and IV Regional Response Teams.

NOAA Begins to Provide Marine Pollution Surveillance Reports

NOAA Satellite and Information Service provides the first experimental marine pollution surveillance report using satellite data, and began providing daily updates.

Search and Rescue Continues

Coast Guard continues to actively search for all 11 missing individuals from the rig through the night, with multiple units responding.

Intergovernmental Calls with Potentially Impacted Gulf Coast Communities Begin

Intergovernmental calls update potentially impacted gulf coast communities the response are communicated to potentially impacted Gulf Coast communities

Daily Response On-Site Press Briefing is Conducted

The next in a daily series of press briefings was conducted between the Minerals Management Service (MMS), the Coast Guard, NOAA, BP and Transocean.

Assets Deployed To Date

Total response vessels: Two Coast Guard cutters

Total response aircraft: Four helicopters and one rescue plane

Response Photos:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/uscgd8/4551846015/in/set-72157623940838176/

http://www.flickr.com/photos/39955793@N07/4545746887/

http://cgvi.uscg.mil/media/main.php?g2_itemId=838790

FRIDAY, APRIL 23

No Apparent Leak

The rig was found—sunken and upside down approximately 1,500 feet northwest of the blowout preventer. An oil sheen was reported with approximately 8,400 gallons estimated on the water and there was no apparent leak discovered.

White House Convened Principal Level Meeting to Discuss Response and Planning In Case Situation Worsens

White House convenes principal level meeting with top officials from across the government including Secretary Napolitano and the NRT in the White House Situation Room to review actions underway and discuss policy considerations and planning in case the situation worsens.

U.S. Government Continues to Mobilize and Move More Resources In Case Situation Worsens

The U.S. government continues to mobilize and move more resources into the gulf to support BP, the responsible party, and apply federal resources to mitigate environmental damage, including moving 8 more vessels to the area

EPA Prepares To Deploy Staff to the Region for Air Monitoring

EPA begins preparations to deploy staff to the region to support the Coast Guard with air monitoring and other activities.

MMS Shuts Down Two Pipelines In the Area To Do Inspection

MMS reports that two pipelines in the vicinity of the sunken rig were shut down until they could be inspected.

Sunken Rig Assessments Continue

Four remote operated marine vehicles continue to monitor the stack, conduct surveys of the riser and pipelines, and assess the stability of the sunken rig.

Unified Area Command is Formally Stood Up

The Unified Area Command is formally and fully stood up in Robert, La., after three days of informal operations and planning.

The President is Briefed

The President monitors the response and is briefed throughout the day by the White House Situation Room

NOAA’s National Weather Service Begins Coordinated Scientific Weather Reports

NOAA’s National Weather Service begins providing coordinated scientific weather and biological response services to federal, state and local organizations.

Search and Rescue Suspends at 5p.m

The Coast Guard continues to actively search for all 11 missing individuals until approximately 5 p.m., when the search was suspended.

Daily Legislative Calls Begin and Daily Response On-Site Press Briefing and Intergovernmental Calls Are Conducted, Deepwaterhorizonresponse.com is Launched

The Coast Guard conducts the next in a daily series of press briefings and intergovernmental calls. A response website with consolidated information was established at http://www.deepwaterhorizonresponse.com.

Assets Deployed To Date—8 More Vessels Arrive

Total response vessels: approximately 10
Oily water recovered: 7,600 gallons
Dispersant used: 1,900 gallons

SATURDAY, APRIL 24

First Oil Leaks Discovered and USCG Elevates Response

For the first time, oil was found to be leaking—one leak from the riser and one leak from the drill pipe. The Coast Guard elevated the response and established a Regional Command Center and Joint Information Center in Robert, La., inviting all partners in the response to join.

NPS Prepares for Potential Oil Spill on national park land along the Gulf Coast

NPS begins cataloging resources and sampling pre-landfall conditions of resources in order to prepare for potential impact of the oil spill on national park land along the Gulf Coast.

MMS Begins to Review BP Applications for Permit to Drill Two Relief Wells

MMS reports that they expected to receive and begin reviewing BP Applications for Permit to Drill (APD) for two relief wells. Four remote operated marine vehicles continued to monitor the stack, conduct surveys of the riser and pipelines, and assess the stability of the sunken rig.

The President is Briefed

The President monitors the response and is briefed throughout the day by the White House Situation Room

Daily On-Site Press Briefing, Legislative and Intergovernmental Calls are Conducted

The next in a daily series of press briefings is conducted between the Minerals Management Service (MMS), the Coast Guard, NOAA, BP and Transocean—this time at the newly-formed Joint Information Center in Robert, La., as well as daily legislative and intergovernmental calls.

Assets Deployed To Date

Total response vessels: approximately 10

Oily water recovered: approximately 40,000 gallons

Response Photos:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/uscgd8/4549418892/

SUNDAY, APRIL 25

Overflights indicated the oil spill size was approximately 48 miles wide by 39 miles long.

Outreach to Potentially Impacted Gulf Coast States, Response Equipment Staging Areas Established

All potentially impacted Gulf Coast states are notified and invited to participate in the command center located in Robert, La. Response equipment staging areas were established in Venice, La., Biloxi, Miss., and Pensacola, Fla.

U.S. Naval Air Station Serves as Staging Facility

At the request of the Coast Guard, the U.S. Navy provides Naval Air Station Pensacola as a staging facility for BP-contractor provided equipment (i.e. containment booms, recovery barges, tractor trailer trucks, various pumps and other related oil response equipment).

20 More Vessels and 500 Responders Are Deployed In Case Situation Worsens

The response continues to mobilize and move more resources into the gulf to support BP, the responsible party, and apply federal resources to mitigate environmental damage, including moving 20 more vessels to the area and deploying 500 responders

MMS Approves Resumption of One of the Two Pipelines Previously Shut Down and Works With BP on Exploration Plan to Drill Relief Wells

MMS approves resumption of one of the two pipelines that were previously shut down to allow for inspection, and continued to work with BP on an exploration plan to drill the two relief wells.

The President is Briefed

The President monitors the response and is briefed throughout the day by the White House Situation Room

Daily On-Site Press Briefing, Legislative and Intergovernmental Calls are Conducted

The next in a daily series of press briefings is conducted between the Minerals Management Service (MMS), the Coast Guard, NOAA, BP and Transocean at the Joint Information Center in Robert, La., as well as daily legislative and intergovernmental calls.

Assets Deployed To Date-20 More Vessels and 500 Responders

Total response vessels: more than 30
Boom deployed: 21,340 feet
Oily water recovered: approximately 42,000 gallons
Dispersant used: 12,600 gallons

Dispersant available: approximately 100,000 gallons
Overall personnel responding: approximately 500

Response Photos:

http://cgvi.uscg.mil/media/main.php?g2_itemId=841178

http://www.flickr.com/photos/uscgd8/4552485336/

MONDAY, APRIL 26

Secretary Salazar Announces Physical Inspections of All Deepwater Rigs

Secretary Salazar directs MMS to commence physical inspections of all deepwater rigs to be concluded with two weeks, followed by physical inspections of all deepwater platforms.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Begin Identifying High Priority National Resources for Booming Operations

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service begin working with the Coast Guard and other partners to identify high-priority natural resources (national wildlife refuges) for booming operations along potentially affected Gulf Coast areas.

The President is Briefed

The President monitors the response and is briefed throughout the day by the White House Situation Room

BP Submits Application for Preliminary Drilling

MMS reports that the Application for Preliminary Drilling (APD) for the Development Driller III had been submitted by BP and was currently under review. A total of 15 MMS personnel were deployed to support event response.

Daily On-Site Press Briefing, Legislative and Intergovernmental Calls are Conducted

The next in a daily series of press briefings is conducted between the Minerals Management Service (MMS), the Coast Guard, NOAA, BP and Transocean at the Joint Information Center in Robert, La., as well as daily legislative and intergovernmental calls.

Assets Deployed To Date- 500 More Responders Deploy

Total response vessels: more than 30
Boom deployed: 21,340 feet
Oily water recovered: 48,384 gallons
Dispersant used: 14,654 gallons
Dispersant available: 119,734 gallons
Overall personnel responding: more than 1,000

Response Photos:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/uscgd8/4557684643/in/set-72157623940838176/

http://www.flickr.com/photos/uscgd8/4558317388/in/set-72157623940838176/

http://www.flickr.com/photos/uscgd8/4558215118/

TUESDAY, APRIL 27

DOI-DHS Announce Formal Investigation Next Steps

Secretary Salazar and Secretary Napolitano announce the formal next steps to their joint investigation underway into the causes of the explosion that left 11 workers missing, three critically injured, and an ongoing oil spill that the responsible party and federal agencies are working to contain and clean up. It is proceeding under a Joint Statement of Principles and Convening Order, which convenes the formal joint investigation, and a Memorandum of Agreement, which lays out roles and responsibilities that relate to each agency’s area of expertise.

White House Meets with BP to Discuss Response Efforts

Numerous top administration officials, including Secretary Napolitano, Secretary Salazar, White House Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett and Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Carol Browner hold meetings in Washington with BP executives and received briefings on company efforts to stop the oil flow.

The President is Briefed

The President monitors the response and is briefed throughout the day by the White House Situation Room

Controlled Burn Plans Are Approved

Plans for a controlled burn of contained oil were approved late at night for the following day. Burns of this type are heavily dependent on weather conditions.

Daily On-Site Press Briefing, Legislative and Intergovernmental Calls are Conducted

The next in a daily series of press briefings is conducted between the Minerals Management Service (MMS), the Coast Guard, NOAA, BP and Transocean at the Joint Information Center in Robert, La., as well as daily legislative and intergovernmental calls.

Assets Deployed To Date-20 Additional Vessels Arrive

Total response vessels: approximately 50
Boom deployed: 29,280 feet
Boom available: 80,900 feet
Oily water recovered: 260,652 gallons
Dispersant used: 29,140 gallons
Dispersant available: 119,734 gallons
Overall personnel responding: more than 1,000

Response Photos:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/uscgd8/4563748656/in/set-72157623940838176/

http://www.flickr.com/photos/uscgd8/4563118299/in/set-72157623940838176/

http://www.flickr.com/photos/uscgd8/4558745875/

http://governor.alabama.gov/gallery/images_detail.aspx?ID=995

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 28

Controlled Burn Is Conducted

A successful controlled, on-location burn is conducted for approximately 30 minutes—a strategy designed to minimize environmental risks by removing large quantities of oil in the Gulf of Mexico following the April 20 explosion. Burns of this type are heavily dependent on weather conditions.

Secretary Salazar Travels to BP Command Center in Houston

Secretary Salazar travels to the BP command center in Houston to review BP’s operations and response efforts.

MMS Approves First Drilling Permit for First Relief Well

MMS reports that the drilling permit for the first relief well had been approved, and that the application for the second relief well was under review.

U.S. Navy Sends Additional Assets

In direct support of the Coast Guard under an existing pollution clean-up and salvage operations agreement, the Navy provides a variety of oil pollution control equipment. The Navy sent thousands of feet of inflatable oil boom with mooring equipment, several skimming systems, related support gear, and personnel to support oil spill response efforts. Naval Air Station Pensacola is serving as a staging facility for Coast Guard contractor-provided equipment.

Daily On-Site Press Briefing, Legislative and Intergovernmental Calls are Conducted

The next in a daily series of press briefings is conducted between the Minerals Management Service (MMS), the Coast Guard, NOAA, BP and Transocean at the Joint Information Center in Robert, La., as well as daily legislative and intergovernmental calls.

Additional Breach Discovered, President is Briefed and Response Escalates

Late in the day, BP alerted the U.S. government to an additional breach. As soon as the additional breach was discovered, senior officials from across the government already convened in the White House Situation Room immediately briefed the President on Air Force One, and Rear Admiral Landry is sent back out for the second time that day to brief press, this time on the additional breach and the steps the administration is taking to respond, including that the President urged – out of an abundance of caution, and mindful of the new information – that we must continue to pre-position resources to continue to aggressively confront this incident.

Assets Deployed To Date

Total response vessels: approximately 50
Boom deployed: 147,100 feet
Oily water recovered: 400,080 gallons
Dispersant used: 56,000 gallons
Dispersant available: 119,734 gallons
Overall personnel responding: more than 1,000

Response Photos:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/uscgd8/4563719473/in/set-72157623940838176/

http://www.flickr.com/photos/39955793@N07/4566316896/

THURSDAY, APRIL 29

Oil Spill Update During the PDB

The President receives another in depth briefing of the escalating situation in his morning PDB session

Spill of National Significance is Declared and White House Holds Briefing for White House Reporters on The Additional Breach and Corresponding Response Efforts

Senior officials from across the government, including Secretary Napolitano, EPA Administrator Jackson and NOAA Administrator Lubchenco and White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs brief White House reporters in the White House briefing room on the change in the event: the additional breach.

Secretary Napolitano announces that the event would now become designated a Spill of National Significance (SONS), which built on the efforts already underway from day one to leverage the full resources of the federal government to be brought to bear in response to this further escalating event. The SONS designation enabled the appointment of a National Incident Commander to coordinate response resources at the national level. The designation does not provide additional funding or authority—nor was it needed, as that authority already existed and resources were mobilized in case the situation worsened from day one. This is why the day DHS announced the SONS designation, there were already more than 70 vessels in the Gulf of Mexico responding to the spill and approximately 1,100 personnel already deployed and on scene to assist.

The President Orders Secretary Salazar to Deliver Report on Additional Safety Measures for Offshore Operations to be Completed Within 30 Days

Secretary Salazar receives direction from the President to deliver in 30 days a report with recommendations on what, if any, additional safety measures should be required for offshore operations. He then announced that inspections of all deepwater rigs and platforms were underway.

The President Makes Remarks on the Oil Spill’s Escalated Situation

The President updates the American people on the worsening situation in the Gulf of Mexico and states that his administration will continue to use every single available resource at our disposal, including potentially the Department of Defense, to address the incident.

White House Convenes Deputy’s Committee Meeting in Situation Room

The White House convenes a meeting at the deputy secretary level with senior officials from across the government to discuss the escalating situation, the response and to continue planning for worsening situations

DoD Designates Mississippi’s Kessler Air Force Base as Base Support Installation

DOD designates Keesler Air Force Base in Mississippi as a base support installation. The installation will serve as a location where military units conduct logistical operations.

DOI Secretary Salazar Hosts Meeting of Oil and Gas Companies to Urge Them To Help

Secretary Salazar spends the day in Houston reviewing BP’s operations and response efforts. Upon his return from Houston, Secretary Salazar hosts a meeting of oil and gas companies in his office and urged them to make available all available resources to the response.

Daily On-Site Press Briefing, Legislative and Intergovernmental Calls are Conducted

The next in a daily series of press briefings was conducted between the Minerals Management Service (MMS), the Coast Guard, NOAA, BP and Transocean at the Joint Information Center in Robert, La., as well as daily legislative and intergovernmental calls.

Assets Deployed To Date-Additional 25 Vessels Arrive

Total response vessels: approximately 75
Boom deployed: 174,060 feet
Boom available: 243,260 feet
Oily water recovered: 763,560 gallons
Dispersant used: 98,361 gallons
Dispersant available: 75,000 gallons
Overall personnel responding: more than 1,000

Response Photos:

http://cgvi.uscg.mil/media/main.php?g2_itemId=844167

http://cgvi.uscg.mil/media/main.php?g2_itemId=844164

http://www.nasa.gov/images/content/449676main_gulf-spill-full.jpg

FRIDAY, APRIL 30

The President Dispatches Senior Administration Officials to the Gulf Coast

The President dispatches Secretary Napolitano, Secretary Salazar, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change Policy Carol Browner, and NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco to the Gulf Coast.

The President Makes Remarks on the Oil Spill’s Escalating Situation

The President updates Americans on the ongoing federal response to the worsening BP oil spill

National Guard Activation

In response to the BP oil spill, the Secretary of Defense authorizes under Title 32 the mobilization of the Louisiana National Guard to help in the ongoing efforts to assist local communities in the cleanup and removal of oil and to protect critical habitats from contamination.

Secretary of Defense Approves Request for Two C-130 Aircrafts To Respond

The Secretary of Defense approves a request for two C-130 aircraft with Modular Aerial Spray Systems (MASS), which are currently en route to the affected area. The Coast Guard requested assistance from the Department of Defense for these aircraft. These aircraft dispense the same dispersant chemical being used by BP and the federal responders. Each system is capable of covering up to 250 acres per flight with three flights per aircraft per day.

Response Crews Begin Testing New Dispersant Technique

Response crews begin testing a new technique to break up the oil before it reaches the surface—a remotely operated underwater vehicle dispensing sub-surface dispersant at a rate of nine gallons per minute. Nearly 3,000 gallons of subsea dispersants were applied, and BP and NOAA evaluated these tests to determine the feasibility of continued use of subsea dispersants.

EPA Begins Monitoring Water Quality, Administrator Jackson Remains On The Ground

EPA begins monitoring water quality in the Gulf Coast region. EPA Administrator Jackson remains on the ground in the region for the following three days, visiting sites in Louisiana and Mississippi and meeting with community leaders, local industry and elected leaders at the state and local level.

The President is Briefed

The President monitors the response and is briefed throughout the day by the White House Situation Room

DOI Establishes Outer Continental Shelf Safety Oversight Board

DOI establishes the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Safety Oversight Board to provide recommendations regarding interim measures that may enhance OCS safety, as well as improving and strengthening the Department’s overall management, regulation and oversight of OCS operations. Secretary Salazar will provide a report to President Obama within 30 days on what, if any, immediate additional precautions and technologies should be required

Senior Federal and State Officials Hold Joint Press Briefing On-Site

Secretary Napolitano, Secretary Salazar, EPA Administrator Jackson, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal and BP Chief Operating Officer Doug Suttles conducted a press briefing. Daily legislative and intergovernmental calls were also conducted.

NOAA Provides Additional Resources To Protect Critical Wildlife

Personnel from NOAA’s National Marine Sanctuaries program provided additional resources for both response and assessment efforts to protect critical wildlife.

Sixth Staging Area Stood Up

A sixth staging area is set up in Port Sulphur, La., joining five others in Venice, La., Biloxi, Miss., Pascagoula, Miss., Theodore, Ala., Pensacola, Fla. 

Assets To Date—1,000 More Responders Arrive

Total response vessels: approximately 75
Boom deployed: 217,000 feet
Boom available: 305,760 feet
Oily water recovered: 853,146 gallons
Dispersant used: 139,459 gallons
Dispersant available: 51,000 gallons
Overall personnel responding: approximately 2,000

Response Photos:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/usnavynvns/4574068993/

http://www.flickr.com/photos/usnavynvns/4574069413/

http://cgvi.uscg.mil/media/main.php?g2_itemId=844563

http://www.flickr.com/photos/uscgd8/4566787948/

SATURDAY, MAY 1

Secretary Napolitano Names U.S. Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Thad Allen to Serve as National Incident Commander

As part of the designation of the BP Oil Spill as a Spill of National Significance, Secretary Napolitano announces that Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Thad Allen will serve as the National Incident Commander for the administration’s continued, coordinated response— providing additional coordinated oversight in leveraging every available resource to respond to the BP oil spill and minimize the associated environmental risks. Admiral Allen has overseen Coast Guard efforts since the moment this event began, when the agency responded quickly to the April 20 explosion in a search and rescue capacity in order to save lives. With this formal designation Admiral Allen is able to continue to lead and coordinate ongoing federal actions to mitigate the oil spill, for which BP is responsible and required to pay response and cleanup costs.

The President is Briefed

The President monitors the response and is briefed throughout the day by the White House Situation Room

White House Convenes Deputy’s Committee Meeting in Situation Room

The White House convenes a meeting at the deputy secretary level with senior officials from across the government to discuss the escalating situation and the response

White House Homeland Security Advisor and U.S. Coast Guard commandant Brief Reporters Via Conference Call on the Ongoing Response Efforts

White House Homeland Security Advisor John Brennan and Admiral Allen brief media via conference call about ongoing efforts to contain the spill and minimize associated environmental risks.

DoD Airlifts Additional Booms To Better Protect Gulf Coast

To prepare for the possible spreading of the oil slick across the Gulf Coast and in support of the 2nd Unified command Center in Mobile, Ala., the Department of Defense airlifted additional boom materials to Mobile, located on four tractor trailers to expedite transportation on the receiving end.

Eight Staging Areas Begin Operating

Eight staging areas were operating in Venice, La., Biloxi, Miss., Pascagoula, Miss., Theodore, Ala., Pensacola, Fla., Port Sulphur, La., Gulfport, Miss., and Port Fourchon, La.

Assets To Date

Total response vessels: approximately 75
Boom deployed: 275,580 feet
Boom available: 316,470 feet
Oily water recovered: more than 1 million gallons
Dispersant used: 142,914 gallons
Dispersant available: 68,300 gallons
Overall personnel responding: approximately 2,000

Response Photos:

http://cgvi.uscg.mil/media/main.php?g2_itemId=847276

SUNDAY, MAY 2

President Obama Visits Gulf Coast to Inspect Response Effort

President Obama visits the Gulf Coast to inspect response operations firsthand, underscoring the administration’s all-hands-on-deck response to protect the coastline of potentially affected Gulf Coast states.

EPA Posts First Air Monitoring Data Results

EPA posts on its dedicated response website the first air monitoring data it has collected in the area—with no red flags.

NOAA Announces Fishing Restriction

NOAA announces a fishing restriction for a minimum of ten days in federal waters most affected by the BP oil spill, largely between Louisiana state waters at the mouth of the Mississippi River to waters off Florida’s Pensacola Bay. The closure was effective immediately. This order balances economic and health concerns and only closes those areas affected by oil. Details can be found here.

Secretaries Napolitano and Salazar Host Gulf Coast States Conference Call

Secretaries Janet Napolitano and Ken Salazar spoke by conference call to Governors Haley Barbour (MS), Bob Riley (AL), Rick Perry (TX), Charlie Crist (FL) and the Deputy Chief of Staff to Gov. Bobby Jindal (LA). Gov. Jindal was with President Obama. They briefed the Governors on the ongoing response to the BP oil spill in the gulf. They spoke specifically about efforts to stop the oil leaks and about mitigating the oil’s impact on the shorelines of their states. Additionally, they spoke about ways to enhance what has been strong cooperation between the federal government and the states.

30 More Vessels and Additional 1,000 Responders Are Deployed to the Gulf Coast

The response continues to mobilize and move more resources into the gulf to support BP, the responsible party, and apply federal resources to mitigate environmental damage, including moving 30 more vessels to the area and deploying an additional 1,000 responders

BP Begins Accepting Claims

BP begins accepting claims for the Gulf Coast oil spill via BP’s helpline at 1-800-440-0858. A BP fact sheet with additional information is available here. Those who have already pursued the BP claims process and are not satisfied with BP’s resolution can call the Coast Guard at 1-800-280-7118. 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.  

Additional DoD Assets Arrive

Two Modular Aerial Spray System (MASS) aircraft were deployed in support of the event. Both aircraft have multiple missions scheduled daily, contingent on weather. These aircraft can dispense the same dispersant chemical being used by BP and the federal responders. Each system is capable of covering up to 250 acres per flight with three flights per aircraft per day—building on existing dispersant capabilities.

A C-17 aircraft carrying pollution response boom components for support flew from Travis AFB in California and arrived at Mobile International Airport.

MMS Reports that BP Begins Drilling First Deep-Water Intercept Relief Well

MMS reported that BP began drilling the first deep-water intercept relief well. This action is expected to take approximately 90 days.

Assets To Date—30 More Vessels and Additional 1,000 Responders Arrive

Total response vessels: 104
Boom deployed: 243,200 feet
Boom available: 522,821 feet
Oily water recovered: more than 1 million gallons
Dispersant used: 156,012 gallons
Dispersant available: 75,124 gallons
Overall personnel responding: approximately 3,000

MONDAY, MAY 3

The President Dispatches Senior Cabinet Officials Back to the Gulf Coast

The President dispatches the secretaries of Commerce, Interior and Homeland Security, the EPA Administrator and the NOAA Administrator to return to the Gulf Coast this week. Specific details on their travel will come from their departments and agencies, but collectively they will be inspecting the ongoing, coordinated response efforts to mitigate the impact of the spill on public health, the environment and the economy. They will meet with business owners to discuss potential economic impacts of this spill across the Gulf Coast region.

Senior Administration Officials Meet with BP Senior Leadership

Secretary Salazar, Secretary Napolitano, EPA Administrator Jackson and other members of the Obama administration met with BP CEO Tony Hayward and BP America Chairman and President Lamar McKay at the Department of the Interior to discuss ongoing, coordinated response efforts and receive an update on BP’s mitigation plans for potentially impacted Gulf Coast states. This was the most recent in a series of meetings that have taken place between administration leadership and BP leadership.

White House Convenes Deputy’s Committee Meeting in Situation Room

The White House convenes a meeting at the deputy secretary level with senior officials from across the government to discuss the escalating situation, the response and to continue planning for worsening situations

More Than 2,000 Volunteers Are Trained To Assist

More than 2,000 volunteers receive training to assist in the response effort to that date. Volunteer recruitment efforts include outreach to local fishermen with boats, which can be used as vessels of opportunity to assist contractors in deploying boom.

OSHA Ensures Cleanup Workers Receive Necessary Protection

Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels visits Louisiana with a team of experienced hazardous materials professionals leading an effort to ensure that oil spill cleanup workers receive necessary protections from the hazards of this work. OSHA is consulting with BP, as well as federal agency partners, to ensure that workers receive appropriate training and protective equipment.

Assets To Date—80 More Vessels Arrive

Total response vessels: 183
Boom deployed: 156,703 feet
Boom available: 530,061 feet
Oily water recovered: more than 1 million gallons
Dispersant used: 156,012 gallons
Dispersant available: 230,138 gallons
Overall personnel responding: approximately 3,000

TUESDAY, MAY 4

Cabinet Officials Brief Members of Congress

Secretary Salazar, Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke, Administrator Jackson, DHS Deputy Secretary Jane Holl Lute and Admiral Allen provided a bi-partisan and bi-cameral briefing to Congress on the administration’s all-hands-on-deck response to the spill. They updated members of Congress on the status of ongoing, coordinated response efforts in the Gulf coast states and delivered an update on BP’s mitigation plans for potentially impacted Gulf Coast states.

Cabinet Officials Host Daily Coordination Calls with the Gulf Coast State Governors

To ensure consistent coordination with the Gulf Coast states, Admiral Thad Allen, Secretaries Janet Napolitano and Ken Salazar, Administrator Lisa Jackson and NOAA Deputy Under Secretary Monica Medina began daily calls with the Governors from the five Gulf Coast states to provide updates on the response to the BP oil spill and answer any questions that arise.  Governors Barbour, Crist, Jindal, Perry and Riley have been invited to participate in the daily calls moving forward.  These daily calls are a follow up to the calls last Friday and Sunday between the Governors and the agencies involved in the federal response, as well as the calls last week between the President and the Governors and the President’s visit to the region on Sunday.  These calls are intended to further the already unprecedented cooperation and focused effort between state and local officials and the federal government in response to this situation.

National Guard Activation

Secretary Gates has authorized use of Title 32 status for up to 17,500 National Guard members in four states: Alabama (3,000), Florida (2,500), Louisiana (6,000) and Mississippi (6,000).

The state of Louisiana has activated approximately 1,200 National Guard members under Title 32 for command and control and sandbagging operations in St Bernard and Plaquemines parishes. Louisiana National Guard personnel are actively manning the Joint Operations Center and Tactical Aviation Cell.

20 More Vessels and 4,500 Responders Are Deployed to the Gulf Coast

The response continues to mobilize and move more resources into the gulf to support BP, the responsible party, and apply federal resources to mitigate environmental damage, including moving 20 more vessels to the area and deploying an additional 4,500 responders

Air Quality Monitoring

EPA’s Air Quality Index (AQI) tracks levels of particulate matter and ozone along the Gulf Coast—data available publicly daily at http://www.airnow.gov and http://gulfcoast.airnowtech.org. In addition to these monitors, EPA’s emergency response teams have put up multiple monitoring stations to track larger particulate matter. The location of these monitoring stations is flexible as conditions change during this response.  

The next in a daily series of press briefings was conducted between the Minerals Management Service (MMS), the Coast Guard, NOAA, BP and Transocean at the Joint Information Center in Robert, La., as well as daily legislative and intergovernmental calls.

Assets To Date—20 More Vessels and 4,000 Responders Arrive

Total response vessels: nearly 200
Boom deployed: 367,881 feet
Boom available: more than 1 million feet
Oily water recovered: more than 1 million gallons
Dispersant used: nearly 160,000 gallons
Dispersant available: 230,000 gallons
Overall personnel responding: approximately 7,500

WEDNESDAY, MAY 5

Secretary Salazar Gulf Coast Visit

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar surveyed ongoing response efforts to combat the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, inspecting the four-story cofferdam that will attempt to capture the largest leak from the damaged wellhead; making an aerial survey of containment and cleanup efforts underway on Gulf waters; and visiting national wildlife refuges on the Louisiana and Alabama coast to assess on-the-ground efforts to protect sensitive areas.

Successful Controlled Burn

Favorable weather conditions allowed responders to conduct a successful controlled burn operation. 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.

NASA Satellite Assets

At NOAA’s request, NASA has agreed to use their ER-2 aircraft, equipped with a highly specialized scanner (the Airborne Visible/Infrared Imaging Spectrometer (AVIRIS) system) to provide NOAA high resolution images of the threatened Gulf shoreline. This will assist valuable NOAA’s damage assessment activities by forecasting spill trajectories and conducting mass balance calculations. Additionally, NASA has employed satellite instruments both to detect the extent of the entire oil spill, and to see the details of the extent of selected areas of the spill.

Additional Staging Location

A 10th staging location was established in Panama City, Fla., joining nine others in Biloxi, Miss., Pensacola, Fla., Pascagoula, Miss., Dauphin Island, Ala., Port Sulphur, La., Shell Beach, La., Slidell, La., Port Fourchon, La., and Venice, La.

Aerial Dispersant Spray Missions

Modular Aerial Spray System (MASS) aircraft flew four missions—dispensing the same dispersant chemical being used by BP and the federal responders. These systems are capable of covering up to 250 acres per flight.

Seafood Inspection

NOAA Fisheries continues to collect seafood samples and transfer those to the National Seafood Inspection Lab.

NOAA Ocean and Marsh Imaging Flights

Two NOAA turbo-prop aircraft are positioned in Mobile, Ala. One will fly marine mammal survey missions—the second aircraft will conduct ocean imaging missions, providing valuable information about the oil thickness and density on the sea surface. A third NOAA aircraft is positioned in New Orleans and staged to conduct aerial photographic flights of marsh areas.

Ocean Exploration Mission

A NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research-sponsored mission is en route to collect seafloor and water column data from areas near the oil spill source.

National Park Service Response Website

The National Park Service created an oil spill response website, available at http://www.nps.gov/aboutus/oil-spill-response.htm, to update the public about potential park closures, resources at risk, and NPS actions to protect vital park space and wildlife.

Total response vessels: nearly 200
Boom deployed: 564,991 feet (regular plus sorbent boom)
Boom available: 1.6 million feet (regular plus sorbent boom)
Oily water recovered: more than 1.2 million gallons
Dispersant used: more than 190,000 gallons
Dispersant available: more than 55,600 gallons
Overall personnel responding: approximately 7,900

 

THURSDAY, MAY 6

Top Officials Visit Gulf Coast

Top administration officials traveled to the Gulf Coast at the direction of the President to meet with federal, state and local officials, as well as local business leaders, as part of their continued oversight of BP’s efforts to plug the leak and contain the spill, and their ongoing emphasis on interagency coordination in response to the event.

Secretary Napolitano and Secretary Locke visited to Biloxi, Miss., and Pensacola, Fla., to inspect response operations, meet with state, local and private sector leaders, and view firsthand staging areas for the deployment of boom to protect vital shoreline from the oil spill. Administrator Lubchenco accompanied the group to Biloxi, then joined White House Council on Environmental Quality Chair Nancy Sutley in Pascagoula, Miss., to tour NOAA’s seafood inspection lab.

Secretary Salazar visited the Mobile Command Center in Mobile, Ala., to observe response efforts and talk with responders about ongoing operations and mitigation plans. He also met with BP Officials at their command center in Houston to get an update on BP’s efforts to close down their leaks.

EPA Deputy Administrator Bob Perciasepe traveled to Louisiana, where he reviewed EPA’s ongoing air and water monitoring activities, met with local and community leaders, and assessed the environmental situation on the ground.

Low-Interest Loans for Small Businesses

Small Business Administration Administrator Karen Mills announced the agency is making low-interest loans available to Louisiana Gulf Coast small businesses suffering financial losses following the oil spill, which shut down commercial and recreational fishing along the state’s southeast coast—acting under the SBA’s authority to offer economic injury assistance in response to a May 4 request from Gov. Bobby Jindal.

NOAA Mission Redirected for Oil Spill Response

A NOAA-sponsored ocean mission, set to explore for deep sea corals, has been redirected to collect seafloor and water column data from areas near the Gulf of Mexico oil spill source. Researchers from the National Institute for Undersea Science and Technology are on a university research ship to obtain core sediment samples from the seafloor and water samples from the water column in areas near the spill source. The samples are expected to provide important information about the abundance of marine organisms and the presence of chemicals in ocean water and sediments—information for a baseline against which to measure change if those areas are affected by sinking oil.

Oil Reaches Shoreline

Shoreline Cleanup and Assessment Teams (SCAT)—federal, state and BP officials working to assess and determine how cleanup will be conducted, and oversee cleanup operations—confirmed that oil was found on the beach at Chandeleur Islands, a small group of uninhabited barrier islands off the northeast of the Mississippi Delta. The Chandeleur Islands are part of the Breton National Wildlife Refuge.

Successful Controlled Burn

Favorable weather conditions allowed responders to conduct a successful controlled burn operation for the second 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.

Emergency Response Stockpiles Arrive

More than 80 flatbed trucks carrying Emergency Ship Salvage Material supplies—part of a managed network of emergency response equipment stockpiles pre-positioned to support and augment U.S. Navy Fleet capabilities to respond to pollution and other events—have arrived at staging areas for immediate deployment.

Cofferdam Drill Ship Inspection Completed

MMS completed its production system inspection for the drill ship Discoverer Enterprise—the vessel that will be used to operate the cofferdam system and process the oily water pumped from the riser plume.

CDC Toxic Substance Monitoring

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) National Center for Environmental Health and Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry are monitoring the gulf oil spill and offering assistance as needed to lead federal agencies and impacted states and communities.

Oil Cleanup Worker Health & Safety Training

National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences is working with BP contractors to provide technical assistance in development and deployment of health and safety training to workers.

New Weather Forecast Website

NOAA’s National Weather Service has created a special forecast website, available at http://www.srh.noaa.gov/lix/.

NOAA Aircraft Missions

NOAA aircraft flew marine mammal survey missions and ocean imaging missions—providing valuable information about the oil thickness and density on the ocean surface.

NPS Incident Management Teams

The National Park Service has activated two incident management teams in the Gulf. Many other park service employees in the area are supporting the response with technical information and assistance.

Aerial Dispersant Spray Missions

Modular Aerial Spray System (MASS) aircraft flew numerous dispersant missions—dispensing the same dispersant chemical being used by BP and the federal responders. These systems are capable of covering up to 250 acres per flight. To ensure nearby residents are informed and protected, the EPA is constantly monitoring air quality in the Gulf area through air monitoring air craft, and fixed and mobile air stations.

Total response vessels: nearly 270
Boom deployed: approximately 750,000 feet (regular plus sorbent boom)
Boom available: 1.4 million feet (regular plus sorbent boom)
Oily water recovered: more than 1.8 million gallons
Dispersant used: more than 253,000 gallons
Dispersant available: more than 317,000 gallons
Overall personnel responding: more than 10,000

FRIDAY, MAY 7

Deploying and Activating the Coffer Dam

The Unified Area Command is carefully tracking the complicated procedure to assemble a subsea capture system that would entail pumping leaking oil up to a vessel on the surface.

Offshore Drilling Permit Applications Halted

Secretary Salazar announced that, as a result of the Deepwater Horizon explosion and spill, beginning April 20—the date of the explosion—no applications for drilling permits will go forward for any new offshore drilling activity until the Department of the Interior completes the safety review process that President Obama requested. In accordance with the President’s request, the Department will deliver its report to the President by May 28. The only exceptions to the new rule regarding permit approvals are the two relief wells that are being drilled in response to the Deepwater Horizon disaster.

Expanded Fishing Restriction

NOAA has modified and expanded the boundaries of the closed fishing area to better reflect the current location of the oil spill, and is extending the fishing restriction until May 17. The closed area now represents slightly less than 4.5 percent of Gulf of Mexico federal waters. The original closure boundaries, which took effect last Sunday, encompassed less than three percent. This leaves many areas that are still available for fishing. The vast majority of Gulf waters has not been affected by the oil spill and continues to support productive fisheries and tourism activities. NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco and her staff will continue to meet with fishermen in the oil-affected area to listen to their concerns and share with them what NOAA scientists have learned so far about how the oil might be affecting their potential seafood catch.

Fish & Wildlife Monitoring

More than 160 Fish & Wildlife Service personnel are involved in the oil spill response in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and the west coast of Florida. Shoreline Cleanup Assessment Teams (SCAT) continue to assess and determine how cleanup will be conducted, and oversee cleanup operations.

FWS personnel continue to conduct overflights of the Chandeleur Islands today to monitor the status of the brown pelican colonies. FWS closed the Breton National Wildlife Refuge to public entry. The refuge closure is important to keep the public safe, to minimize disturbance to nesting colonial sea birds, and to allow personnel conducting cleanup operations and recovery efforts to work safely and efficiently.

Emergency Food Support

USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) met with Louisiana food bank directors to discuss potential need for USDA food support and to assess inventory that might be available for distribution to affected areas. FNS was informed that BP has made a $100,000 contribution to assist with local emergency food needs. FNS discussed income eligibility of potential Louisiana women, infants and children affected by the oil spill with the State of Louisiana. 

Secretary Salazar Oversight Activities

Secretary Salazar continued his oversight activities in a meeting with BP officials in Houston today and met with the manufacturers of the Blowout Preventer (BOP) device to discuss the damaged wellhead. The BOPs contain mechanisms designed to shut off the flow of oil and gas, either on command or automatically, when a wellhead is damaged or experiences a blowout. Federal and company engineers are seeking to determine why the BOP atop the Deepwater Horizon well failed to activate as designed.

Secretary Salazar directed U.S. Geological Survey Director Dr. Marcia McNutt to remain at BP’s command center to help coordinate the joint efforts of federal scientists and BP engineers who are working on several technological challenges and approaches to securing the damaged well head, capturing the leak and controlling the spill.

Aerial Dispersant Missions

Modular Aerial Spray System (MASS) aircraft flew multiple missions—dispensing the same dispersant chemical being used by BP and the federal responders. These systems are capable of covering up to 250 acres per flight.

Successful Controlled Burn

Favorable weather conditions allowed responders to conduct a successful controlled burn operation for the second 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.

Total response vessels: nearly 270
Boom deployed: approximately 829,000 feet – more than 150 miles  (regular plus sorbent boom)
Boom available: approximately 1.3 million feet (regular plus sorbent boom)
Oily water recovered: nearly 1.9 million gallons
Dispersant used: more than 282,000 gallons
Dispersant available: more than 317,000 gallons
Overall personnel responding: more than 10,000

SATURDAY, MAY 8

Natural Resources Impact Assessments

Department of the Interior Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks Tom Strickland and National Parks Service Director John Jarvis surveyed the impact of the oil spill on natural resources in the Gulf Islands. In total, 310 DOI personnel have been deployed as part of the oil spill response, representing the DOI Gulf Leadership Team, FWS, MMS, NPS and the DOI Office of Emergency Management.
 
U.S. Geological Survey Oil Response Team Activated

The U.S. Geological Survey Oil Response Team was activated to communicate and coordinate daily response activities, including supplying biologic, coastal geology, hydrology and geographic data to other agencies, partners, and emergency responders.

Damage Assessment Activities

NOAA’s Damage Assessment Remediation and Restoration Program is coordinating an assessment of damage to natural resources with federal partners, BP (as the responsible party), and trustees in Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi and Florida. Multiple agencies from each state are engaged. This assessment will gauge impacts to fish, shellfish, marine mammals, turtles, birds and other sensitive resources as well as their habitats, including wetlands, beaches, mudflats, bottom sediments, corals and the water column. The trustees will also assess any lost human uses of these resources, for example, fishing, hunting, and beach recreational closures.  The trustees are also assessing the efficacy of evaluating impacts from the response, including burning, and dispersant use at the surface and at depth. 

Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) is a legal process to determine the type and amount of restoration needed to compensate the public for harm to natural resources and their human uses that occur as a result of an oil spill. For more information, visit here.

Expanded Low-Interest Small Business Loans

SBA Administrator Karen Mills announced that SBA is making economic injury assistance available in 21 additional parishes for small businesses suffering financial losses following the Deepwater BP oil spill that shut down commercial and recreational fishing along the state’s southeast coast. With these additions, SBA economic injury loans are now available in 34 Louisiana parishes and seven Mississippi counties.

Fishing Industry Engagement

NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco and her staff continue to meet with fishermen in the oil-affected area to listen to their concerns and share with them what NOAA scientists have learned so far about how the oil might be affecting their potential seafood catch.

NOAA Observational Flights

NOAA aircraft flew observational overflights of the oil spill, during which trained observers recorded locations of oil and affected wildlife. NOAA aircraft also flew coastal photography and mapping missions. A NOAA P‐3 aircraft (one of NOAA’s hurricane hunter aircraft) flew preparatory missions to calibrate trajectory models of the Gulf of Mexico Loop Current. 

Total response vessels: more than 270
Boom deployed: approximately 923,000 feet (regular plus sorbent boom)
Boom available: approximately 1.3 million feet (regular plus sorbent boom)
Oily water recovered: nearly 2.1 million gallons
Dispersant used: approximately 290,000 gallons
Dispersant available: more than 185,000 gallons
Overall personnel responding: more than 10,000

SUNDAY, MAY 9

DOI Leadership Deployments

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar dispatched Director of the National Park Service Jon Jarvis and Acting Director of the Fish and Wildlife Service Rowan Gould to command centers along the Gulf Coast to help lead efforts to protect coastal communities and natural resources from oil spill. Jarvis is stationed in the Mobile, Ala., Incident Command Center, and Gould is stationed in the Houma, La., Incident Command Center.

Drilling Rig Inspection and Oversight

MMS has completed its inspections of all 30 deepwater drilling rigs and is now inspecting all deepwater production platforms. The Minerals Management Service (MMS) continues to work with BP to explore all options that could stop or mitigate oil leaks from the damaged well. Pursuant to MMS’s regulatory authority, all plans are being reviewed and approved by MMS before implementation.

Snare Booms Erected

Cleanup crews have placed snare boom to collect tarballs in the affected area on Dauphin Island. Snare boom can be staked along beaches and shoreline to act as a filter and prevent tarballs from coming ashore. Analysis of the tarballs is being conducted to determine the origin of the oil and may take 48 hours to complete. Shoreline assessment teams typically consist of three or four trained personnel prepared to evaluate a section of shoreline, equipped with proper protective gear. Trained volunteers may assist members of the group. Team members must have basic site safety training and training sufficient to complete an evaluation of the beach. Reports of tarballs can be made to the Coast Guard at any time at 1-800-448-5816.

13 Staging Areas Along Gulf Coast

13 staging areas have been set up to protect vital shoreline in all potentially affected Gulf Coast states (Biloxi, Miss., Pascagoula, Miss., Pensacola, Fla., Panama City, Fla., Dauphin Island, Ala., Grand Isle, La., Shell Beach, La., Slidell, La., Venice, La., Orange Beach, Al., Theodore, Al., Pass Christian, Ms., Cocodrie, La.).

NOAA Oversight Activities

NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco met with scientists at the Dauphin Island (Ala.) Sea Lab and representatives from the Mobile (Ala.) Port Authority, and participated in a briefing at the Mobile Incident Command Center. NOAA continues to provide scientific support including: modeling the trajectory and location of the oil, getting pre-impact shoreline samples surveys and baseline measurements, and planning for open water and shoreline remediation.

NOAA Observational Flights

One of NOAA’s P-3 (hurricane hunter) aircraft conducted a flight to help monitor the location of the Gulf of Mexico Loop Current. NOAA also flew missions for marine mammal surveys, coastal photography and mapping purposes.

Assets to Date

Total response vessels: more than 275
Boom deployed: more than 1 million feet (regular plus sorbent boom)
Boom available: more than 1.3 million feet (regular plus sorbent boom)
Oily water recovered: approximately 3.5 million gallons
Dispersant used: approximately 325,000 gallons
Dispersant available: more than 500,000 gallons
Overall personnel responding: approximately 10,000

MONDAY, MAY 10

The President Meets with Cabinet Members in the Situation Room

President Obama met with a number of Cabinet members and senior staff in the White House Situation Room to review BP’s efforts to stop the oil leak as well as to decide on next steps to ensure all is being done to contain the spread, mitigate the environmental impact and provide assistance to affected states, including individuals, businesses, and communities.

The President asked Energy Secretary Stephen Chu to lead a team of top administration officials and government scientists to Houston this week for an extensive dialogue with BP officials to continue to aggressively pursue potential solutions.

In addition, to deal more generally with the harms created by oil spills, the President has requested that legislation be sent to Congress to toughen and update the law surrounding caps on damages.

EPA Administrator Jackson Returns to the Gulf Coast

Administrator Jackson made another visit to the Gulf region to oversee efforts to mitigate the environmental and human health impact of the ongoing BP oil spill—visiting Baton Rouge, La., to receive a briefing by Louisiana State University scientists; and Robert, La., to receive a briefing by federal agency scientists.

Secretary Salazar Dispatches Top Land Management Official

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced today that Director of the Bureau of Land Management Robert Abbey has been dispatched to the Gulf Coast to support ongoing response efforts to the BP Deepwater oil spill.

Navy Supports Skimming Operations

The U.S. Navy is providing assistance in the areas of skimming and salvage operations—including 16 Modular Skimming Systems deployed to Gulfport, Miss. 1,400 total associated Department of Defense personnel have been deployed in support of spill cleanup and mitigation.

New Staging Location Opens in Amelia, La.

14 staging areas have been set up to protect vital shoreline in all potentially affected Gulf Coast states (Biloxi, Miss., Pascagoula, Miss., Pensacola, Fla., Panama City, Fla., Dauphin Island, Ala., Grand Isle, La., Shell Beach, La., Slidell, La., Venice, La., Orange Beach, Al., Theodore, Al., Pass Christian, Ms., Amelia, La., and Cocodrie, La.).

Property Damage Claims Processed

BP reports that 5,710 property damage claims have been opened, from which $2.4 million has been disbursed. No claims have been denied at this time. Approximately 60 operators are answering phones, and average wait time is currently less than a minute. To file a claim, or report spill-related damage, call BP’s helpline at (800) 440-0858. 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.

NOAA Conducts Research and Evaluation

NOAA Research is evaluating the information obtained from the NOAA P-3 (hurricane hunter) aircraft flight over the Gulf of Mexico Loop Current on May 8.

Lessons Learned from Exxon Valdez Examined

Alaska and Louisiana Sea Grant personnel are meeting regularly with Alaska Oil Spill Responders to explore lessons learned from the Exxon Valdez incident and possible applications to the Deepwater Horizon. NOAA’s Sea Grant is a university-based network of more than 3,000 scientists, engineers and educators.

Fish & Wildlife Field Crews Respond

Eight field crews have been deployed from the Dennis Pass Wildlife Staging Area to observe the impact on wildlife due to the spill. Wildlife search and capture teams conducted boat operations from the Lake Borgne to the Southwest Pass of the Mississippi River and west to Cameron, La. Four helicopters conducted aerial surveys to observe wildlife and determine if rescue operations are needed in potentially affected areas.

Water and Sediment is Sampled

The U.S. Geological Survey completed water and sediment sampling at 16 sites along coastal Alabama and Mississippi. USGS is preparing for sampling in Texas and Florida, and also for sea-grass bed surveys.

Plans Begin for Bioremediation

USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service is assessing the capabilities of Plant Materials Centers and asking commercial growers to ramp up plant propagation efforts for potential future bioremediation efforts.

Aerial Dispersant Spray Missions Flown

Modular Aerial Spray System (MASS) aircraft flew multiple missions—dispensing the same dispersant chemical being used by BP and the federal responders. These systems are capable of covering up to 250 acres per flight.

Assets to Date

Total response vessels: more than 290
Boom deployed: more than 1 million feet (regular plus sorbent boom)
Boom available: more than 1.4 million feet (regular plus sorbent boom)
Oily water recovered: approximately 3.6 million gallons
Dispersant used: approximately 372,000 gallons
Dispersant available: more than 180,000 gallons
Overall personnel responding: approximately 10,000

TUESDAY, MAY 11

Interior Department Announces Reforms to Enhance Oil and Gas Oversight

As part of an ongoing agenda to change the way the Department of the Interior does business, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced a set of reforms that will provide federal inspectors more tools, more resources, more independence, and greater authority to enforce laws and regulations that apply to oil and gas companies operating on the Outer Continental Shelf. 

Salazar has also enlisted the National Academy of Engineering to provide a set of fresh eyes on the issues surrounding the Deepwater Horizon incident and an independent, science-based understanding of what happened.

NOAA Modifies Fishing Closed Areas in Gulf; 93 Percent Remains Open

NOAA’s Fisheries Service modified the area closed to fishing in the Gulf of Mexico due to the spill, which will include federal waters seaward of Louisiana state waters in the vicinity of Timbalier Island to waters off Florida’s Choctawhatchee Bay. These changes will leave more than 93 percent of the Gulf’s federal waters open for fishing, and supporting productive fisheries and tourism.

NOAA also will expedite updates to the areas closed to fishing in the Gulf of Mexico, as well as public notice of those changes. The closure process is being improved to cut down on the red tape necessary to modify the boundaries of the closure area. Area boundaries could be modified daily, based on where and how fast the oil spill is moving. NOAA will provide daily updates at http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov by 12 p.m. EDT. 

Scientific Assets Continue to Join the Response

NASA mobilized its remote-sensing assets to help assess the spread and impact of the Deepwater Horizon BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico at the request of U.S. disaster response agencies. NASA has deployed its instrumented research aircraft the Earth Resources-2 (ER-2) to the Gulf. The agency is also making extra satellite observations and conducting additional data processing to assist the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. Geological Survey, and the Department of Homeland Security in monitoring the spill.

Top Fisheries Scientist Dispatched

As part of its ongoing efforts to protect consumers, NOAA is sending one of its top fisheries science directors to the Gulf this week to lead its effort to rapidly assess, test and report findings about risks posed to fish in the Gulf of Mexico by contaminants from the BP oil spill and clean-up activities.

NOAA’s Northeast Fisheries Science Center (NEFSC) Director Nancy Thompson, Ph.D, will head to Pascagoula, Miss., to lead NOAA’s response team. Thompson will work closely with Bonnie Ponwith, Ph.D., the director at the agency’s Southeast Fisheries Science Center, who is leading an intensified effort to monitor and assess the spill’s effects on important species in the Gulf of Mexico.
Asian American and Pacific Islander Community Liaison Dispatched
White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders Advisor on Community Engagement Miya Chen is joining the Area Unified Command Center in Robert, La., to assess the immediate needs of the Asian American community.

The Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and NIEHS are monitoring BP and its contractors to ensure that every worker receives necessary training in the worker’s language, as OSHA regulations require.

The National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) is collaborating with BP to provide Vietnamese-language translators and trainers. Vietnamese, Cambodian and Taiwanese translations of the BP Vessels of Opportunity fishing contracts is being provided at the Venice Community Center. BP has hired a local Vietnamese American liaison officer and is contracting additional office support and translation.

OSHA Develops Multi-Lingual Worker Guides

OSHA is developing pocket-sized health and safety guides for cleanup workers and volunteers. Guides available in English should be ready by this weekend and guides in Spanish and Vietnamese should be ready for distribution early next week.

Leak Plug Tactic Approved by MMS

MMS approved the methanol injection to prevent hydrate formation in the “top hat” structure. The top hat should be on site by mid-week after modifications are made.

DOD Transports Boom and Equipment from Alaska

Following approval by Secretary of Defense Robert Gates for assistance, several commercial aircraft and numerous C-17 aircraft commenced missions to transport 150,000 feet of BP pollution response boom and approximately 250 short tons of Navy salvage equipment commenced movement from Anchorage, Alaska, to New Orleans.

Total response vessels: more than 460
Boom deployed: approximately 1.4 million feet (regular plus sorbent boom)
Boom available: approximately 1.5 million feet (regular plus sorbent boom)
Oily water recovered: approximately 4 million gallons
Dispersant used: approximately 430,000 gallons
Dispersant available: more than 120,000 gallons
Overall personnel responding: approximately 13,000

WEDNESDAY, MAY 12

The President Introduces Legislation to Enhance the Response

As part of the administration’s commitment to pursue full compensation for damages from BP and other responsible parties, the President sent a legislative package to Congress that will enable the Deepwater BP Oil Spill response to continue expeditiously, speed assistance to people affected by this spill, and strengthen and update the oil spill liability system to better address catastrophic events.

While the President’s proposal will ask for additional funds in some cases, the federal government will not relent in pursuing full compensation for the expenses it has incurred, and for damage caused by the spill. The President has been clear from the beginning: his Administration will not rest until the leak is contained and cleaned up. To learn more about the President’s proposed legislation, please visit this site: Fact Sheet: Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Legislative Package

Top Officials Spearhead Efforts to Find Innovative Solutions to Plug Leak

At the request of the President, Secretary Salazar and Secretary Chu traveled to Houston to participate in meetings with DOE and national lab staff, industry officials and other engineers and scientists involved in finding solutions to cap the flow of oil and contain the spill. Secretary Salazar and Secretary Chu conferred at the BP Command Center in Houston with teams of federal and industry scientists and engineers who are using cutting-edge technological resources and innovative ideas to find solutions to containing the oil spill and protecting Gulf Coast communities.

Town Hall Meeting Held with Minority Business Owners

The Minority Business Development Agency and the Asian Chamber of Commerce of Louisiana hosted a town hall meeting with Vietnamese American community-based organizations and local business development organizations; the Small Business Administration Disaster Relief Team; and others, to share information with fisherman, shrimpers and crew members and discuss their rights and privileges as minority business owners in regards to the oil spill.

Top Oceans and Atmosphere Official is Sworn In and Immediately Deployed to Gulf

Dr. Larry Robinson was sworn in this week as assistant secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere at NOAA, and has already arrived on the Gulf Coast. He conducted an over flight of the oil spill area and received operational updates at the Robert, La., Incident Command Center, NOAA’s National Weather Service office in Slidell, La., and was briefed on NOAA’s seafood inspection efforts in Mississippi.
 
Secretary Salazar Dispatches National Parks Superintendent

Secretary Salazar dispatched Superintendent of Everglades and Dry Tortugas National Parks Dan Kimball to the new Command Center in St. Petersburg, Fla., to help lead efforts to protect coastal communities and natural resources from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

Superintendent Kimball, a 24-year veteran of the National Park Service, is joining other members of Interior’s senior leadership team dispatched over the last two weeks to command centers along the Gulf coast. Kimball is among the more than 410 DOI personnel who have been deployed as part of the oil spill response. 

Community Town Hall Held in Ocean Springs, Miss.

Today, representatives from Coast Guard, EPA, NOAA, the Department of the Interior, the Department of Labor, the Agency for Toxic Substance and Disease Registry and BP participated in a town hall meeting in Ocean Springs, Mississippi to provide an update on the response to Deepwater Horizon BP oil spill and continue the dialogue with members of the community, local business leaders and other organizations.

Oversight Continues of BP’s Containment Efforts

MMS reports that significant progress has been made by BP on the construction of the “top hat” containment system. The “top hat” has been placed on the seabed and the Drill Ship Enterprise is constructing and lowering the riser piping that will bring the captured oil to the surface. MMS also reports that the drill ship drilling the second relief well is en route to the drill site to begin drilling preparations. Gas and oil production from the Gulf of Mexico remains near normal with few adverse impacts to other operators from the oil spill.

Bottlenose Dolphin Studies Conducted

NOAA’s National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science and NOAA Fisheries Southeast Fisheries Science Center are conducting bottlenose dolphin studies in Mississippi and Louisiana. The samples will be used to evaluate baseline levels of exposure to oil and other environmental contaminants. The team will be working near Grand Isle, La., and in Mississippi Sound.

NOAA Continues to Provide State-of-the-Art Modeling

NOAA Air Resources Laboratory is providing its HYSPLIT forecast air dispersion model—a model that projects the trajectory of airborne particles—to support National Weather Service smoke forecasts from controlled burn operations.

NOAA’s National Geophysical Data Center is providing coastal digital elevation models (DEMs) for the Gulf area. DEMs use coastal sea floor depth and land elevation data which then provides information about the likely movement of the ocean as it approaches the coastal area.

Total response vessels: more than 510
Boom deployed: approximately 1.5 million feet (regular plus sorbent boom)
Boom available: approximately 1.5 million feet (regular plus sorbent boom)
Oily water recovered: approximately 4 million gallons
Dispersant used: approximately 436,000 gallons
Dispersant available: more than 120,000 gallons
Overall personnel responding: approximately 13,000

 

THURSDAY, MAY 13

Secretary Salazar Announces First Steps in MMS Restructuring

As the federal government continues its relentless response to the Deepwater BP Oil Spill and investigates the cause of the explosion and oil spill, Secretary Salazar directed Assistant Secretary for Policy, Management and Budget Rhea Suh and Senior Advisor Chris Henderson to oversee a restructuring of the Minerals Management Service that will ensure the independence of the agency’s inspections and enforcement mission.

Secretary Salazar also sent a letter to Congressional leaders asking for their ideas and input on his plan to reform the agency.

Officials Inspect Rig Preparing to Drill Relief Well

National Incident Commander and Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Thad Allen and Federal On-Scene Coordinator Rear Admiral Mary Landry inspected the Development Driller II, which is set to begin drilling the second relief well shortly to permanently cap the leaking well.

BP’s “Top Hat” Containment System Approaches Completion

MMS reports that BP has approached completion of the “top hat” containment system, and expects an update from BP as early as tomorrow on its operational status.

Community Town Hall Held in Port Sulpher and Dulac, La.

Representatives from the Coast Guard, EPA, NOAA, the Department of the Interior, the Department of Labor, the Agency for Toxic Substance and Disease Registry and BP participated town hall meetings in Port Sulpher and Dulac, La., to provide an update on the response to the oil spill and continue the dialogue with members of the community, local business leaders and other organizations.

Shoreline Cleanup Teams Continue to Assess Impact

Shoreline Cleanup and Assessment Teams (SCAT) surveyed 19 miles of Dauphin Island, Ala., and the Jackson County shoreline with minimal tarball findings. An additional five teams were deployed to Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge to recovery tarballs.

The Department of the Interior has deployed 568 total personnel to the affected area to assist in cleanup, wildlife protection and rehabilitation, and shoreline assessment efforts.

Unified Area Command Continues to Build Web and New Media Engagement

The Unified Area Command in Robert, La., continues to grow its public engagement via its website (www.deepwaterhorizonresponse.com), which has received more than 19 million hits since it was launched on April 23, as well as Facebook (18,277 users) and Twitter (3,707 followers). These resources contain information about response efforts, jobs, volunteer opportunities, impacts to wildlife and other important public information.

DOD Aircraft Conduct Dispersant Spray Missions

The Department of Defense’s Modular Aerial Spray System (MASS) aircraft flew multiple missions—dispensing the same dispersant chemicals being used by BP and federal responders. These systems are capable of covering up to 250 acres per flight, and flights are coordinated with the EPA and the State of Louisiana to ensure all environmental concerns are addressed. Since MASS flights began on May 1, a total of 47 missions have been flown and nearly 70,000 gallons of dispersant have been applied.

National Guard Support Continues to Build

1,304 National Guard personnel are currently supporting oil response—952 from the Louisiana National Guard are providing Command and Control and sandbagging support to St. Bernard and Plaquemines parishes, supporting marina operations and conducting HAZMAT training; 323 from the Alabama National Guard are deploying protective barriers around Dauphin Island and conducting sandbag and security operations; 25 from the Mississippi National Guard personnel are providing helicopter support and liaison officers to aid local officials with emergency response; and four from the Florida National Guard are performing liaison duties in support of the response effort to the Unified Command Center in Alabama and to its own emergency operations center in Tallahassee.

Five Oil Platforms Have Been Evacuated to Ensure Health and Safety

A total of five platforms have been evacuated in order to ensure the safety and health of rig workers. Estimated oil production shut-in is 2,300 barrels a day (0.14 percent of the Gulf ‘s oil production) and approximately 1.2 million cubic feet of gas (0.02 percent of the Gulf’s gas production).

Joint Bird Rescue Operations Are Dispatched

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services and the National Parks Services dispatched a joint boat operation to Horn Island, Miss., to recover potentially oiled wildlife and transport them to a wildlife rehabilitation center for treatment. Treatment and rehabilitation operations are also ongoing on Chandeleur Island.

Total response vessels: more than 520
Boom deployed: approximately 1.5 million feet (regular plus sorbent boom)
Boom available: approximately 1 million feet (regular plus sorbent boom)
Oily water recovered: more than 5 million gallons
Dispersant used: approximately 475,000 gallons
Dispersant available: more than 215,000 gallons
Overall personnel responding: approximately 13,000

FRIDAY, MAY 14

President Obama Holds Principals Meeting and Updates Public on Response

The President met with members of his Cabinet and other senior administration officials to determine next steps in the ongoing effort to stop the BP oil spill, contain its spread, and help affected communities. He also provided an update to the American people—stressing the seriousness and urgency of the situation by stating that he will not be satisfied until the leak is stopped at the source, the oil in the Gulf is contained and cleaned up, and the people of the Gulf are able to go back to their lives and their livelihoods.

The President emphasized that the administration-wide mobilization and response efforts have always been geared toward the possibility of a catastrophic event, no matter how large the leak. He stressed that every available resource is being used to stop the oil from coming ashore. The President also asked for prompt action on the legislation sent to Congress that would provide additional resources to mitigate the damage caused by the spill, help with cleanup efforts, provide unemployment assistance and job training to folks whose jobs are affected by this crisis, and help with the region’s economic recovery.

In addition, the President announced that there will now be a new examination of the environmental procedures for oil and gas exploration and development and reaffirmed his commitment to putting in place every necessary safeguard and protection to ensure that a tragedy like this does not happen again—a responsibility shared by all parties involved, including the oil companies, the equipment manufacturers, and the federal government. He asserted that Gulf Coast residents deserve nothing less than for the federal government to do whatever is necessary to stop the spill, prevent further damage and ensure all who have already been harmed are compensated.

Review is Launched to Examine Environmental Procedures of Oil and Gas Exploration

The Council on Environmental Quality and the Department of the Interior announced a review of the National Environmental Policy Act procedures for the Minerals Management Service (MMS), the bureau in DOI that manages the nation’s natural gas, oil and other mineral resources on the outer continental shelf (OCS). The review will examine the MMS NEPA procedures for OCS oil and gas exploration and development

Coast Guard and BP Officials Brief Local Elected Officials

Officials from the U.S. Coast Guard and BP briefed local elected officials from Mobile County and Baldwin County, Ala., on shore cleanup plans.  
 
Admiral Allen Meets with Local Responders

National Incident Commander and Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Thad Allen met with local responders—bouy tenders and Shoreline Cleanup Assessment (SCAT) Teams—at staging areas in Dauphin Island, Ala. and Biloxi, Miss.

DOD Aircraft Conduct Dispersant Spray Missions

The Department of Defense’s Modular Aerial Spray System (MASS) aircraft flew multiple missions—dispensing the same dispersant chemicals being used by BP and federal responders. These systems are capable of covering up to 250 acres per flight, and flights are coordinated with the EPA and the State of Louisiana to ensure all environmental concerns are addressed.

DOD Supply Transport Completed

The transport of 150,000 feet of BP pollution response boom and approximately 250 short tons of Navy salvage equipment from Anchorage, Alaska, to the Gulf Coast was completed as the two remaining C-17 lift missions—authorized by Secretary of Defense Robert Gates—arrived in New Orleans.

Wildlife Surveillance and Recovery Teams Search for Impacted Wildlife

Eight joint surveillance and recovery teams were deployed via air, land, and sea. Two helicopter surveys were conducted. Typical marine birds (pipers, gulls, pelicans, herons, osprey) were observed in the normal clumped pattern along the shoreline. No evidence of oiled shoreline or oiled wildlife was observed by aerial operations

Preparations Continue for Drilling of Second Relief Well

MMS reports the Development Driller II arrived at a temporary location approximately five miles from the drill site to load materials required to position the vessel and begin drilling the well. MMS expects the vessel will move to the drill location within the next 24-48 hours and prepare to begin drilling.

Additional Funds are Authorized for Pollution Removal Efforts

MMS successfully amended its Pollution Removal Fund Authorization to cover response operations through May 17 with a maximum value of $1 million. This agreement may be amended as the response situation warrants.

Boom Quality Flights Continue

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service personnel are working with BP to ensure overflights occur twice daily in the morning and evening to check that booming is deployed appropriately and any required maintenance is completed quickly.

Plans Begin for Potential Manatee Monitoring and Potential Rescue

The U.S. Geological Survey is working with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute on a plan for potential manatee rescues and monitoring (by aerial surveys), in coordination with NOAA and FWS in Florida, Alabama and Louisiana. Crews collected water and sediment samples at four sites in Louisiana and seven sites in the Florida panhandle.

Scientists Conduct Studies on Subsurface Oil

The NOAA Research-funded mission of the R/V Pelican is back at the spill site with six scientists from National Institute for Undersea Science and Technology and currently engaged in efforts to learn more about subsurface oil.

Teams Continue Shoreline Cleanup and Assessments

SCAT teams surveyed 19 miles of Dauphin Island, Ala., and the Jackson County shoreline with minimal tarball findings. An additional five teams were deployed to Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge (Ala.) to recover tarballs.

Total response vessels: nearly 560
Containment boom deployed: more than 1.2 million feet
Containment boom available: approximately 200,000 feet
Sorbent boom deployed: more than 380,000 feet
Sorbent boom available: more than 870,000 feet
Oily water recovered: more than 5 million gallons
Dispersant used: more than 517,000 gallons
Dispersant available: more than 250,000 gallons
Overall personnel responding: approximately 17,000

SATURDAY, MAY 15

Secretaries Napolitano and Salazar Seek Clarification of BP’s Redress Intentions

Secretary Napolitano and Secretary Salazar sent a letter to BP CEO Tony Hayward publicly holding BP’s feet to fire. As the President said yesterday, this administration is committed to ensuring that those affected are compensated. The Secretaries reiterated that as a responsible party for this event, BP is accountable to the American public for the full clean up of this spill and all the economic loss caused by the spill and related events.

Coast Guard and EPA Approve Use of Dispersant Subsea

The U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced they have authorized BP to use dispersants underwater, at the source of the Deepwater Horizon leak. Oil spill dispersants are chemicals that attempt to break down the oil into small drops and prevent it from reaching the surface or the U.S. shoreline. Dispersants are generally less harmful than the highly toxic oil leaking from the source and biodegrade in a much shorter time span.

The use of the dispersant at the source of the leak represents a novel approach to addressing the significant environmental threat posed by the spill. Preliminary testing results indicate that subsea use of the dispersant is effective at reducing the amount of oil from reaching the surface—and can do so with the use of less dispersant than is needed when the oil does reach the surface. This is an important step to reduce the potential for damage from oil reaching fragile wetlands and coastal areas.

This course of action was decided upon with thorough evaluation and consideration of many factors as well as consultation with stakeholders. While BP pursues the use of subsea dispersants, the federal government will require regular analysis of its effectiveness and impact on the environment, water and air quality, and human health through a rigorous monitoring program. EPA's directive to BP, including the monitoring plan the company must adhere to in order to ensure the protection of the environment and public health, is publicly available at www.epa.gov/bpspill/dispersants.

Secretary Salazar Visits Wildlife Rehabilitations Center

Secretary Salazar visited Fort Jackson Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Buras, La., today to examine efforts being undertaken by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and its partners to protect and rehabilitate wildlife affected by the BP oil spill. Salazar also visited the Unified Area Command facility in Robert, La., for a briefing.

Fishing Restrictions Extended; More Than 92 Percent Remains Open

NOAA Fisheries revised the federal fishery closure boundaries late on May 14. The new closure is a precautionary measure to ensure public safety and assure consumer confidence of Gulf of Mexico seafood. These changes will leave more than 92 percent of the Gulf’s federal waters open for fishing, and supporting productive fisheries and tourism. More details can be found here.

Staging Area Total Grows to 17

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.

Progress Made in Relief Well Drilling Preparations

The Development Driller III, which will dig the first relief well, is lowering the blowout preventer stack and riser. The reported depth was nearly 3,000 feet as of 7 p.m. EDT on Friday, May 14. After initial review by MMS, BP revised and resubmitted the Application for Permit to Drill the second relief well, which will be undertaken by the Development Driller II—which is on location and making preparations for initiating the drilling process.

Wildlife Hotline Taking Calls

The Wildlife Hotline has received a total of 17 calls for birds, fish, marine mammals, and reptiles which have not been confirmed. The Wildlife Rehabilitation Centers in Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida have received wildlife and have been conducting to treatment and rehabilitation.

Water Contamination Devices Installed in Everglades

A National Park Service crew installed three Semi-Permeable Membrane Devices in the Gulf Coast District of Everglades National Park to detect contamination in the water.

Mussel Watch Team is Dispatched

A NOAA Mussel Watch team has been sent to the Gulf to collect mussel samples, including oyster tissue, sediments, and water from Atchafalaya Bay, La., west to the Brazos River, Texas. The team has partnered with the Louisiana Department of Fish and Game to collect remaining sites in Louisiana, and will then work with the NMFS Galveston Laboratory to collect sites along the Texas coast. Mussel Watch is the longest continuous contaminant monitoring program in U.S. coastal waters.

NOAA Research Ship Re-Deployed to Spill Response

The NOAA Ship Gordon Gunter, previously scheduled to conduct plankton research in the Gulf of Mexico, is now providing information for oil spill related research.

Total response vessels: more than 620
Containment Boom deployed: more than 1.25 million feet
Containment boom available: more than 270,000 feet
Sorbent boom deployed: more than 415,000 feet
Sorbent boom available: more than 900,000 feet
Oily water recovered: more than 6.3 million gallons
Dispersant used: more than 560,000 gallons
Dispersant available: more than 260,000 gallons
Overall personnel responding: nearly 17,500

SUNDAY, MAY 16

Riser Insertion Tube Leak Mitigation Tactic is Tested

The Unified Area Command reports that overnight the Riser Insertion Tube Tool was successfully tested and inserted into the leaking riser, capturing some amounts of oil and gas. The oil was stored on board the Discoverer Enterprise drill ship 5,000 feet above on the water’s surface, and natural gas was burned through a flare system on board the ship.

The test was halted temporarily when the tube was dislodged, but technicians have fully inspected the system and have re-inserted the tool. While not collecting all of the leaking oil, this tool is an important step in reducing the amount of oil being released into Gulf waters

Secretary Salazar and Secretary Napolitano issued a joint statement on these efforts: “Today, BP attempted another test to contain some of the oil leaking from the riser. This technique is not a solution to the problem, and it is not yet clear how successful it may be. We are closely monitoring BP’s test with the hope that it will contain some of the oil, but at the same time, federal scientists are continuing to provide oversight and expertise to BP as they move forward with other strategies to contain the spill and stop the flow of oil. We will not rest until BP permanently seals the wellhead, the spill is cleaned up, and the communities and natural resources of the Gulf Coast are restored and made whole.”

Progress Made in Relief Well Drilling Preparations

MMS reports the Development Driller III, which will drill the first relief well, has finished running blowout preventer (BOP) stack and riser and is currently latching the BOP to the wellhead for the first relief well. The Development Driller II, which will drill the second relief well, is on location and is making preparations for initiating the drilling process and performing BOP maintenance.

Wildlife Surveillance and Recovery Teams Search for Impacted Wildlife

Seven Fish and Wildlife Service surveillance and recovery teams were deployed from the Mobile, Ala., Command Center—four via land with two support crews; two via sea on 2 separate vessels; and one via helicopter over-flight.

Two helicopters conducted flights at low levels to spot wildlife along the Biloxi Marsh, Breton Sound, SW Pass and Pas-A-Loutre. One helicopter conducted an early morning IR Thermal Imagery pilot study flight with Department of Defense scientists. The second helicopter continued its flights with DOI Assistant Secretary of Fish and Wildlife and Parks Tom Strickland over New Orleans area, Houma Command Center and SE Louisiana Refuge Complex in Lacombe, La., to observe potentially impacted wildlife.

Total response vessels: more than 650
Containment Boom deployed: more than 1.29 million feet
Containment boom available: more than 285,000 feet
Sorbent boom deployed: more than 440,000 feet
Sorbent boom available: more than 640,000 feet
Oily water recovered: more than 6.3 million gallons
Dispersant used: more than 600,000 gallons
Dispersant available: more than 280,000 gallons
Overall personnel responding: more than 19,000

 

MONDAY, MAY 17

SBA Provides Direct Outreach to Affected Small Business Owners

The Small Business Administration has deployed staff to Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida to meet individually with business owners, answer questions about the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program, issue loan applications, and provide help in completing the loan forms via business outreach centers.

SBA Administrator Karen Mills has made available low-interest economic injury assistance loans—and deferring the first payment for 12 months—for small businesses suffering financial losses following the oil spill in coastal regions of Alabama, Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi.

While small businesses are encouraged to file claims with BP, these loans can provide the critical temporary assistance needed to overcome the loss of revenue they are currently experiencing. Additionally, the agency is offering deferral opportunities for small businesses in the affected areas on existing SBA disaster loans, as well as encouraging private lenders who have borrowers in the affected areas with existing SBA-guaranteed loans to consider deferrals

Loan applications can also be made via SBA’s secure web application at www.sba.gov or over the phone at (800) 659-2955.

Gulf Coast Elected Officials Tour Response Command Posts

Florida Governor Charlie Crist and U.S. Representative Bill Young visited the St. Petersburg Incident Command Post, and Alabama Governor Bob Riley and U.S. Congressman Kendrick Meek visited the Mobile, Ala., Incident Command Post to meet with local, state and federal officials involved in the ongoing response to the BP oil spill.

Officials Continue Direct Outreach to Gulf Coast Governors

The federal government continues to engage closely with Gulf Coast Governors, and is providing regular response updates via conference call directly to the Governors and their staffs. 
 
MMS Oversight of BP Relief Well Drilling Continues

MMS reports that the Development Driller III, which is drilling the first relief well, installed the blowout preventer on the wellhead and is undergoing functional tests. The second relief well has progressed hundreds of feet into the seafloor after spudding on the morning of May 17. Spudding indicates the point in time when the drill penetrates the sea floor.

NOAA Coordinates Underwater Fish and Habitat Surveys

NOAA’s Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary is teaming up with NOAA’s National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science, the Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution and the University of North Carolina Wilmington to conduct remotely operated underwater vehicle surveys of the fish and deep water habitats of East and West Flower Garden Banks—vital marine sanctuaries in the Gulf of Mexico.

Fishing Restrictions Expanded; Majority of Federal Waters Remain Open

NOAA modified the Gulf of Mexico commercial and recreational fishing closure area. It now measures 24,241 square miles—approximately 10 percent of the Gulf of Mexico exclusive economic zone. The majority of federal waters in the Gulf of Mexico are open to commercial and recreational fishing.

Seafood Safety Analysis Continues

NOAA Fisheries is collecting baseline samples for seafood safety analyses on the west side of the Mississippi river. Two locations were sampled and the research vessel is now moving west of the oil spill in Louisiana waters. NOAA Fisheries also contracted a fishing vessel that left Saturday morning to sample the easternmost closed fishing zone using bottom trawl gear.  

Total response vessels: more than 750
Containment boom deployed: more than 1.3 million feet
Containment boom available: more than 360,000 feet
Sorbent boom deployed: more than 400,000 feet
Sorbent boom available: more than 750,000 feet
Total boom deployed: more than 1.7 million feet (regular plus sorbent boom)
Total boom available: more than 1.1 million feet (regular plus sorbent boom)
Oily water recovered: more than 6.6 million gallons
Surface dispersant used: approximately 580,000 gallons
Subsea dispersant used: approximately 45,000 gallons
Total dispersant used: approximately 625,000 gallons
Dispersant available: more than 390,000 gallons
Overall personnel responding: more than 17,000

TUESDAY, MAY 18

The President Urges Congress to Act on Legislation to Enhance Response

President Obama again urged Congress to act quickly on a legislative package that will enable the Deepwater BP Oil Spill response to continue expeditiously, speed assistance to people affected by this spill, and strengthen and update the oil spill liability system to better address catastrophic events.

The President issued the following statement: “I am disappointed that an effort to ensure that oil companies pay fully for disasters they cause has stalled in the United States Senate on a partisan basis. This maneuver threatens to leave taxpayers, rather than the oil companies, on the hook for future disasters like the BP oil spill. I urge the Senate Republicans to stop playing special interest politics and join in a bipartisan effort to protect taxpayers and demand accountability from the oil companies.”

Small Amounts of Oil Reach Proximity of Loop Current

Satellite imagery indicates that the main bulk of the oil is dozens of miles away from the Loop Current, but that a tendril of light oil has been transported within close proximity. NOAA is conducting ongoing aerial observations to determine with certainty whether or not the oil has actually entered the Loop Current, and continues engage experts within and outside government to develop long-term oil movement forecasts.

 Both the location of the Loop Current and the oil slick are dynamic—moving around from day to day. The proximity of the tendril of light oil to the Loop Current indicates that oil is increasingly likely to become entrained. In the time it would take for oil to travel to the vicinity of the Loop Current, any oil would be highly weathered and the natural processes of evaporation and dispersion would reduce the oil volume significantly. The oil would also be significantly diminished by ongoing chemical dispersant application.

Fishing Restrictions Extended, Balancing Economic and Public Health Concerns

Out of an abundance of caution, NOAA has extended the boundaries of the closed fishing area in the Gulf of Mexico into the northern portion of the Loop Current as a precautionary measure to ensure that seafood from the Gulf will remain safe for consumers. Though the latest analysis shows that the bulk of the oil remains dozens of miles from the Loop Current, the new boundaries address the possibility that a tendril of light oil has entered or will enter it.

The closed area now represents 45,728 square miles, which is slightly less than 19 percent of Gulf of Mexico federal waters. This leaves more than 81 percent of Gulf federal waters—or nearly 195,000 square miles—still available for fishing. Details can be found at http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/.

The newly closed area is more than 150 miles from the nearest port and primarily in deep water used by pelagic longline fisheries that target highly migratory species, such as tuna and swordfish. Coastal fisheries, such as grouper, snapper and shrimp, will not be affected by the expansion of the closed area.

SBA Continues to Make Low-Interest Loans Available to Affected Small Businesses

SBA Administrator Karen Mills has made available low-interest economic injury assistance loans—and deferring the first payment for 12 months—for small businesses suffering financial losses following the oil spill in coastal regions of Alabama, Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi.

While small businesses are encouraged to file claims with BP, these loans can provide the critical temporary assistance needed to overcome the loss of revenue they are currently experiencing. Additionally, the agency is offering deferral opportunities for small businesses in the affected areas on existing SBA disaster loans, as well as encouraging private lenders who have borrowers in the affected areas with existing SBA-guaranteed loans to consider deferrals.

Loan applications can also be made via SBA’s secure web application at www.sba.gov or over the phone at (800) 659-2955.

NASA Continues to Provide Satellite Imagery to Monitor the Oil Slick

NASA scientists and research partners are working closely to provide satellite data to those who need it in the wake of the disaster. One such scientist is Sonia Gallegos, of the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL), who recently spent several days on a boat seeing the effects of the oil spill first hand. This project, which proposes to use NASA’s active and passive remote sensing capabilities to monitor oil slicks, was funded by NASA six months ago and got a serious jump start three weeks ago when the Deepwater Horizon BP oil rig caught fire and sunk.

This project is part of a larger effort by NASA’s Applied Sciences Program to address coastal management issues in the Gulf of Mexico. NASA’s Gulf of Mexico Initiative began in response to the impact of hurricanes Katrina, Dennis, Rita and Wilma in 2005 and overall is intended to enhance the ecological and economic health of the Gulf. NASA is working to achieve these goals through use of expertise in remote sensing, oceanography, coastal processes, signal processing and mathematical modeling.

Controlled Burn Conducted

Favorable weather conditions allowed responders to conduct a successful controlled burn operation for the second 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.

Aircraft Conduct Aerial Dispersant Missions

Modular Aerial Spray System (MASS) aircraft flew multiple missions—dispensing the same dispersant chemical being used by BP and the federal responders. These systems are capable of covering up to 250 acres per flight.

Coastal Waters Assessment Team Completes Sampling

NOAA’s Mussel Watch replacement team completed sampling throughout coastal Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida, and is now focused on collecting oysters, sediments and water at eight remaining sites in Texas. In total, the Mussel Watch pre-oiling sample expedition will have visited 60 sites in the northeastern Gulf region in partnership with NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service, the Louisiana Department of Fish & Wildlife, Louisiana State University, and the MOTE Marine Laboratory.

Total response vessels: more than 950
Containment boom deployed: more than 1.36 million feet
Containment boom available: more than 350,000 feet
Sorbent boom deployed: more than 480,000 feet
Sorbent boom available: more than 800,000 feet
Total boom deployed: more than 1.8 million feet (regular plus sorbent boom)
Total boom available: more than 1.15 million feet (regular plus sorbent boom)
Oily water recovered: more than 7.65 million gallons
Surface dispersant used: approximately 590,000 gallons
Subsea dispersant used: approximately 53,000
Total dispersant used: approximately 640,000
Dispersant available: more than 300,000 gallons
Overall personnel responding: more than 20,000

 

WEDNESDAY, MAY 19

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.

Total response vessels: more than 970
Containment boom deployed: more than 1.38 million feet
Containment boom available: more than 380,000 feet
Sorbent boom deployed: more than 530,000 feet
Sorbent boom available: more than 845,000 feet
Total boom deployed: more than 1.91 million feet (regular plus sorbent boom)
Total boom available: more than 1.22 million feet (regular plus sorbent boom)
Oily water recovered: more than 7.87 million gallons
Surface dispersant used: approximately 600,000 gallons
Subsea dispersant used: approximately 55,000
Total dispersant used: approximately 655,000
Dispersant available: more than 310,000 gallons
Overall personnel responding: more than 19,400

THURSDAY, MAY 20

Admiral Allen Will Stay On as National Incident Commander

Secretary Napolitano today announced that U.S. Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen has agreed to remain in his current role as National Incident Commander for the administration’s continued, coordinated response to the Deepwater BP Oil Spill after stepping down from his post as Coast Guard Commandant later this month as planned—enabling him to focus solely on managing the unprecedented response effort. As planned and previously announced, Admiral Robert J. Papp, Jr., will relieve Admiral Allen as Commandant later this month.

Secretary Napolitano and Administrator Jackson Demand Transparency from BP

Secretary Napolitano and EPA Administrator Jackson sent a letter to BP CEO Tony Hayward stressing their expectation that BP to conduct all actions in a transparent manner, with all data and information related to the spill readily available to the U.S. government and the American people. The letter stated that BP must promptly provide to the United States Government and the public all data and information regarding the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and update it daily.

EPA Begins Posting Results from Monitoring of BP’s Subsea Dispersant Use

EPA last night began posting results from the ongoing monitoring of BP’s use of underwater dispersants in the Gulf of Mexico at http://www.epa.gov/bpspill. EPA received this data from BP last night and posted it within hours. Dispersants are a chemical used to break up oil into small droplets so that they are more easily degraded.

This is part of EPA’s continued commitment to make air, water, sediment and dispersant monitoring data available to the public as quickly as possible and to ensure the citizens of the Gulf region have access to all relevant public and environmental health information relating to the BP oil spill.

Directive Issued Requiring BP to Identify and Use Less Toxic, More Effective Dispersant

EPA issued a directive requiring BP to identify and use a less toxic and more effective dispersant from the list of EPA authorized dispersants. Dispersants are a chemical used to break up oil into small droplets so that they are more easily degraded.

The directive requires BP to identify a less toxic alternative—to be used both on the surface and under the water at the source of the oil leak—within 24 hours and to begin using the less toxic dispersant within 72 hours of submitting the alternative. If BP is unable to identify available alternative dispersant products, BP must provide the Coast Guard and EPA with a detailed description of the alternative dispersants investigated, and the reason they believe those products did not meet the required standards. EPA’s directive to BP can be found here.

Economic Cost and Societal Impact Modeling Continues

The Department of Energy’s national laboratories are working with DHS’ National Infrastructure Simulation and Analysis Center (NISAC), which is modeling the economic costs and societal impact of the oil spill on energy and other industries in the Gulf and along the coast to support the response efforts of the National Incident Commander and the Unified Area Command. NISAC is a modeling, simulation, and analysis center within DHS that leverages national expertise to address infrastructure protection.

Riser Insertion Tube Tool Continues to Divert Leaking Oil

BP’s riser insertion tube tool continues to capture a varying rate of leaking oil, bringing it to the surface for storage and disposal. 

Progress Continues in Drilling Relief Wells

The Development Driller III, continues to drill the first relief well at approximately 30 feet per hour. The Development Driller II is being prepared to receive the blowout preventer, following which it will begin drilling the second relief well.

Natural Resource Conservation Service Continues to Build Response

USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service has deployed personnel and multiple vessels to assist the Louisiana Department of Fisheries and Wildlife in monitoring oil making landfall in Terrebonne Bay and Breton Sound areas in Louisiana, and continues to assist the Louisiana National Guard with technical engineering recommendations for stabilizing beach and headland areas where sand and earthen material is being placed to plug openings to prevent the oil from entering the wetlands.

Individual and Small Business Support Services Coordination Team Begins Work

An interagency team is developing and overseeing a unified approach for coordinating supportive services to individuals and small businesses impacted by the BP oil spill. In support of the National Incident Command, the Interagency Integrated Services Team is building a coordination plan based on the operational concept of “no wrong door” to ensure individuals, families, and small business can easily access the claims process, benefits, and other services.

This team will work closely among all levels of government to ensure that BP, as a responsible party, meets its obligations and that impacted individuals are made whole. Leadership from the interagency team briefed Governors from Gulf Coast states and identified next steps for a coordinated effort to ensure all claims are properly addressed.

As part of these efforts, a central resource for information on how to obtain assistance for dealing with the impacts of the current oil spill should visit www.disasterassistance.gov.

Navy Ocean Survey Vessels Assist in Boom Deployment and Skimming

Three Navy ocean survey vessels—the Wes Bordelon, the John Coghill and the Vanguard—continue to support boom deployment and skimming activities along the Gulf Coast.

Total response vessels: more than 1040
Containment boom deployed: more than 1.43 million feet
Containment boom available: more than 370,000 feet
Sorbent boom deployed: more than 560,000 feet
Sorbent boom available: more than 1.28 million feet
Total boom deployed: nearly 2 million feet (regular plus sorbent boom)
Total boom available: more than 1.65 million feet (regular plus sorbent boom)
Oily water recovered: more than 8.37 million gallons
Surface dispersant used: approximately 600,000 gallons
Subsea dispersant used: approximately 55,000
Total dispersant used: approximately 655,000
Dispersant available: more than 340,000 gallons
Overall personnel responding: more than 24,700

FRIDAY, MAY 21

Team Works to Provide Scientifically Validated Flow Rate Information

The National Incident Command’s Flow Rate Technical Group (FRTG) is coordinating efforts across the federal government to support the response and inform the public by providing scientifically validated information about the amount of oil flowing from BP’s leaking oil well while ensuring the vital efforts to cap the leak are not impeded.  

The administration-wide response efforts have always been geared toward the possibility of a catastrophic event, and our deployment of resources and our tactics have been based on such a worst case scenario not an inexact number. With the source of the oil 5,000 feet under the ocean’s surface, it has been extremely difficult to estimate oil flow rate in an environment that prohibits human access.  

The FRTG reflects the federal government’s clear understanding of the value of determining an oil flow rate, both in regards to the continued response and recovery, as well as the important role this information may play in the final investigation of the failure of the blowout preventer and the resulting spill. The group expects to have an initial flow assessment completed by early next week.

Secretary Chu Postpones Trip to China to Focus on Scientific Oil Spill Response

Energy Secretary Steven Chu is postponing a trip to China, scheduled for next week, at the request of President Obama, in order to stay in the country to continue his work on response efforts to the BP oil spill. Secretary Chu was originally scheduled to visit Beijing and Shanghai and discuss further progress on bilateral clean energy cooperation.
 
Secretary Chu has been working with the Department of Energy’s National Laboratories and other top scientists to help BP determine how to stop the leak, and exploring ideas about the most effective scientific and engineering approaches to the problem.
 
The Department of Energy has also been offering its resources and technical assistance to the Flow Rate Technical Group.

Federal Officials Meet with BP to Discuss Top Kill Method

Federal officials and scientists have been working with BP engineers on the review of the various operations, procedures and contingencies that will be used during the “top kill” attempt.  Federal officials met with the BP Top Kill Management Team to discuss critical decision processes regarding carrying out the top kill. The current schedule for the “top kill” is May 23-25, and the total operation could take several days to complete.

Plans Are Made for Long-Term National Parks Recovery Process

National Parks Service Science Advisor Dr. Gary Machlis will lead an Interior Department Science Team to work on long-term recovery strategies. NPS is currently identifying and developing multi-disciplinary position descriptions and working with human resources to initiate personnel actions. Most of the long-term recovery positions will be "Emergency Hires". DOI has deployed more than 630 personnel to focus on the BP Oil Spill response.

Total response vessels: more than 1100
Containment boom deployed: more than 1.46 million feet
Containment boom available: more than 370,000 feet
Sorbent boom deployed: more than 560,000 feet
Sorbent boom available: more than 1.28 million feet
Total boom deployed: more than 2 million feet (regular plus sorbent boom)
Total boom available: more than 1.65 million feet (regular plus sorbent boom)
Oily water recovered: more than 8.94 million gallons
Surface dispersant used: approximately 600,000 gallons
Subsea dispersant used: approximately 70,000
Total dispersant used: approximately 670,000
Dispersant available: more than 340,000 gallons
Overall personnel responding: approximately 24,000

 

SATURDAY, MAY 22

The President Signs an Executive Order Establishing Bipartisan Commission

President Obama announced that he has signed an executive order establishing the bipartisan National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling with former two-term Florida Governor and former Senator Bob Graham and former Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency William K. Reilly serving as co-chairs.

The bipartisan National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling is tasked with providing recommendations on how we can prevent—and mitigate the impact of—any future spills that result from offshore drilling.

The commission will be focused on the necessary environmental and safety precautions we must build into our regulatory framework in order to ensure an accident like this never happens again, taking into account the other investigations concerning the causes of the spill.

The commission will have bipartisan co-chairs with a total membership of seven people. Membership will include broad and diverse representation of individuals with relevant expertise. No sitting government employees or elected officials will sit on the commission.

The Commission’s work will be transparent and subject to the Federal Advisory Committee Act.  The Commission will issue a report within six months of having been convened.

EPA Releases BP’s Response to Dispersants Directive

The EPA released BP’s response to its directive on dispersants, which required BP to evaluate available, pre-approved dispersants for toxicity and effectiveness and report back to EPA within 24 hours. EPA will continue to work over the next 48 hours to ensure BP is complying with the directive. BP’s response to EPA’s directive, as well as the directive itself, can be found here.

BP and several of the dispersant manufacturers have claimed some sections of BP’s response contain confidential business information (CBI). By law, CBI cannot be immediately made public except with the company's permission. EPA challenged these companies to make more information public and, as a result, several portions of the letter can now be made public. EPA is currently evaluating all legal options to ensure that the remaining redacted information is released to the public. EPA continues to strongly urge these companies to voluntarily make this information public so Americans can get a full picture of the potential environmental impact of these alternative dispersants.

Preparation Continues for BP’s Top Kill Attempt to Stop Leaking Oil

BP and federal scientists and engineers continue to prepare for the top kill operation, which is tentatively scheduled for Tuesday, May 25. From the command centers in Robert, La., and Houston, Texas, federal officials continue to review BP’s various procedures and contingencies for the top kill. Scientists from Sandia, Los Alamos and Livermore National Laboratories are examining the risks associate, and BP continues to evaluate options for lower toxicity dispersant and alternative supply chains.

Wildlife Rescue Flights Continue

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services conducted four flights today for recon/wildlife rescue missions and bird surveys.

Officials Plan and Prepare for Any Potential Impacts to Tribal Lands

DOI’s Bureau of Indian Affairs continues to work with tribes along the Gulf Coast to determine potentially impacted tribal lands, and conduct pre-planning, including coordinated efforts with local emergency agencies, in preparation for any future impact.

Total response vessels: more than 1150
Containment boom deployed: more than 1.52 million feet
Containment boom available: more than 310,000 feet
Sorbent boom deployed: more than 560,000 feet
Sorbent boom available: more than 1.27 million feet
Total boom deployed: more than 2 million feet (regular plus sorbent boom)
Total boom available: more than 1.58 million feet (regular plus sorbent boom)
Oily water recovered: more than 9.73 million gallons
Surface dispersant used: approximately 630,000 gallons
Subsea dispersant used: approximately 85,000
Total dispersant used: approximately 715,000
Dispersant available: more than 375,000 gallons
Overall personnel responding: approximately 24,900

SUNDAY, MAY 23

Secretary Salazar Meets with Federal Science Team Working at BP Command Center

Secretary Salazar traveled to the BP Command Center in Houston to meet with the federal science team that is working with BP officials, scientists and engineers to help stop the flow of oil from BP’s well. Since day one, Secretary Salazar has continued to hold BP accountable for meeting critical deadlines as they attempt to close the well.

Oil Cleanup Efforts Continue to Build in Louisiana

Response personnel and Shoreline Cleanup and Assessment Teams, along with hundreds of volunteers, continue to clean the Louisiana coastal areas impacted by the Deepwater BP oil spill. Approximately 400 people, more than 300 vessels and 45 aircraft are on-scene in Iberia, Jefferson, Lafourche, Plaquemines, and Terrebonne Parishes investigating reports of oil, cleaning impacted areas and evaluating response efforts to ensure the oil is removed with the most environmentally responsible methods.

Response crews and Shoreline Cleanup and Assessment Teams have positioned more than half a million feet of boom in the region. They are manually removing oil with shovels and rakes, skimming the oil off the surface, applying dispersant and conducting controlled burning operations at every opportunity to minimize coastal impact.

Additional response personnel and equipment is being surged into areas where modeling and aerial surveillance indicate a greater potential for shoreline impact. Anyone who locates oil on the shore should avoid contact and report the sighting to (866) 448-5816.

Fish and Wildlife Operations Continue to Expand

Assistant Secretary of Fish and Wildlife and Parks Tom Strickland visited Robert, Port Fourchon and Delta National Wildlife Refuge to oversee wildlife rescue missions and plans. Fish and Wildlife Service is working to expand their operations further to the west pursuant to reports of the oil spill impacting assets in that direction. Up to 10 personnel will be based out of Grand Isle and a barge will be moved to Trinity Island. An additional helicopter has been obtained to assist with wildlife rescue missions.

Property Damage Claims Processed

The administration will continue to hold the relevant companies accountable for repairing the damage and repaying Americans who’ve suffered a financial loss. BP continues to process claims via its claims website (www.bp.com/claims) and its helpline (1-800-440-0858). BP reports that 23,451 claims have been opened, from which $27.8 million has been disbursed. No claims have been denied at this time. There are more than 420 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.

Controlled Burn Conducted

Favorable weather conditions allowed responders to conduct a successful controlled burn operation. 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.

Total response vessels: more than 1150
Containment boom deployed: more than 1.73 million feet
Containment boom available: more than 275,000 feet
Sorbent boom deployed: more than 730,000 feet
Sorbent boom available: more than 1.25 million feet
Total boom deployed: more than 2.46 million feet (regular plus sorbent boom)
Total boom available: more than 1.52 million feet (regular plus sorbent boom)
Oily water recovered: more than 10.24 million gallons
Surface dispersant used: approximately 685,000 gallons
Subsea dispersant used: approximately 100,000
Total dispersant used: approximately 785,000
Dispersant available: more than 340,000 gallons
Overall personnel responding: more than 22,000

MONDAY, MAY 24

Secretary Napolitano and Secretary Salazar Visit Louisiana to Inspect Response
Secretary Salazar and Secretary Napolitano today visited Louisiana to inspect the ongoing, unprecedented federal response to the BP oil spill—accompanied by a bipartisan Senate delegation including Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA), and Senator David Vitter (R-LA).

In Louisiana, Secretary Salazar and Secretary Napolitano met with Governor Bobby Jindal and local community and industry leaders to discuss the latest response efforts in Louisiana and along the Gulf Coast with federal officials leading the effort as well as BP representatives.
They also conducted a flyover tour of the Louisiana coastline to view firsthand the spill’s impact on these vital coastlines, and cleanup efforts underway.

The visit was Secretary Salazar’s seventh and Secretary Napolitano’s fourth visit to the Gulf Coast and the affected area since day one.

Fishery Failure is Determined, Balancing Economic and Public Health Needs

Commerce Secretary Gary Locke determined there has been a fishery disaster in the Gulf of Mexico due to the economic impact on commercial and recreational fisheries from the ongoing Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The affected area includes the states of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.

This action was taken because of the potentially significant economic hardship this spill may cause fishermen and the businesses and communities that depend on those fisheries. The disaster determination will help ensure that the Federal government is in a position to mobilize the full range of assistance that fishermen and fishing communities may need.

Locke made the determination under Section 312(a) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act. The declaration was made in response to requests from Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal and Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour based on the loss of access to many commercial fisheries and the existing and anticipated environmental damage from this unprecedented event.

BP Continues to Process Damage Claims

The administration will continue to hold the relevant companies accountable for repairing the damage and repaying Americans who’ve suffered a financial loss. BP continues to process claims via its claims website (www.bp.com/claims) and its helpline (1-800-440-0858). 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.

NOAA Mobilizes Three Teams of Scientists to Collect Strategic Samples

In response to the Deepwater BP oil spill, NOAA’s Mussel Watch program has mobilized three teams of scientists to test shellfish, sediment and water at 60 locations along the Gulf of Mexico from the Florida Keys to Brazos River, Texas.
 
The mission of this Mussel Watch effort is to collect additional baseline data on contamination in strategic areas of the Gulf shoreline so that if the oil hits a particular area, new samples can be taken that would reveal the full impact of the spill.
 
These preliminary samples will be tested for 60 oil-related compounds—to include polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, known as PAHs. NOAA will use this data as part of the natural resources damage assessment that determines the type and amount of restoration that is required for the Gulf.
 
Wildlife Rescue Flights and Observations Inform Booming Priorities

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service conducted overflights for reconnaissance, wildlife rescue missions and bird survey missions. One flight near the Biloxi Marsh observed two small islands with nesting colonies of pelicans, gulls, and terns. In response, a request was submitted to place boom around these two islands.

Drilling Continues on Both Relief Wells

BP continues to make progress in drilling both relief wells—more than 10,000 feet down for the first and more than 8,500 feet for the second.

Total active response vessels: more than 1,200
Containment boom deployed: more than 1.75 million feet
Containment boom available: more than 380,000 feet
Sorbent boom deployed: more than 990,000 feet
Sorbent boom available: more than 1.07 million feet
Total boom deployed: more than 2.74 million feet (regular plus sorbent boom)
Total boom available: more than 1.45 million feet (regular plus sorbent boom)
Oily water recovered: more than 10.83 million gallons
Surface dispersant used: approximately 700,000 gallons
Subsea dispersant used: approximately 115,000
Total dispersant used: approximately 815,000
Dispersant available: more than 300,000 gallons
Overall personnel responding: more than 22,000


 

*** This is a general narrative of key actions the U.S. government took to save lives and mitigate the BP oil spill’s impact on public health, the environment and the economy. (Detailed and specific after-action information is still being collected, as with any major event.) ***

Related Topics: Deepwater BP Oil Spill
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