The Ongoing Administration-Wide Response to the Deepwater BP Oil Spill: June 4, 2010

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.

Below is the latest in the ongoing Administration-wide response provided by the Joint Information Center.  

Heidi Avery is White House Deputy Homeland Security Advisor

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The Ongoing Administration-Wide Response to the Deepwater BP Oil Spill
Prepared by the Joint Information Center
UPDATED June 3, 2010 7 PM
 

In the Past 24 Hours

The President Makes His Third Trip to the Gulf Coast
Making his third trip to the Gulf Coast since BP’s oil rig exploded, President Obama traveled to Louisiana to meet with Gulf Coast elected officials, responders on the ground, and local residents and business leaders impacted by the BP oil spill.

Speaking alongside federal officials and Gulf Coast governors, the President sharply criticized BP for spending money on a public relations campaign.

“I don’t have a problem with BP fulfilling its legal obligations,” the President said. “But I want BP to be very clear—they’ve got moral and legal obligations here in the Gulf for the damage that has been done. And what I don’t want to hear is, when they’re spending that kind of money on their shareholders and spending that kind of money on TV advertising, that they’re nickel-and-diming fishermen or small businesses here in the Gulf who are having a hard time.”

The President discussed recent progress in improving coordination between responders and local officials—including bridging differences on the barrier islands proposal and stationing a Coast Guard official and BP representative with each parish president, pledging the same representation for local officials in other Gulf States. The President also traveled to Grand Isle, La., where he met with Mayor David Camardelle and approximately 30 local residents.

Upon arrival in Kenner, La., the President was greeted by Governors Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, Charlie Crist of Florida, and Bob Reilly of Alabama; U.S. Senator David Vitter; Louisiana Representatives Charlie Melancon and Anh “Joseph” Cao; New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu; Lafitte Mayor Tim Kerner; and Parish Presidents Billy Nungesser (Plaquemines), Michel Claudette (Terrebonne), Charlotte Randolph (Lafourche), Steve Theriot (Jefferson); Admiral Allen; EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson; and Counselor to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano Tracy Wareing. The President received a briefing from Admiral Allen.

BP Lowers Containment Device Onto Riser; Begins Capturing Some Oil and Gas
Under the federal government’s direction, BP cut off a portion of the riser before attempting to place a containment device over it in order to capture the leaking oil. Late last night, BP placed the containment cap over the source of the leak. The cap has allowed BP to capture some oil and burn some gas at the surface.

In response to these developments, Admiral Allen released the following statement: “The placement of the containment cap is another positive development in BP’s most recent attempt to contain the leak; however, it will be sometime before we can confirm that this method will work and to what extent it will mitigate the release of oil into the environment. Even if successful, this is only a temporary and partial fix and we must continue our aggressive response operations at the source, on the surface and along the Gulf's precious coastline.”

Admiral Allen Provides Operational Update for Unified Area Command
National Incident Commander Admiral Thad Allen this morning provided a briefing to inform the American public and answer questions on the progress of the administration-wide response to the BP oil spill from Louisiana by teleconference. A transcript is available here.

Administration Continues to Oversee BP’s Claims Process
In his briefing, Admiral Allen discussed the administration’s aggressive oversight of the BP claims process from start to finish that will ensure that every legitimate claim is honored and paid in an efficient manner, and its strong commitment to providing residents with full, streamlined access to available assistance programs.

BP, as a responsible party, is accountable for making the communities, individuals and business impacted by this spill whole again. The federal government continues to provide oversight of this process to ensure BP is expeditiously reimbursing claims to address immediate cash flow needs and long term recovery and quickly resolving any issues that arise.

To date, BP reports that 34,656 claims have been opened, from which more than $45.9 million have been disbursed. No claims have been denied to date. There are more than 516 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.

The National Incident Command has established the Deepwater Integrated Services Team to coordinate interagency support services for individuals and small businesses impacted by the BP oil spill—designed to provide residents with full, streamlined access to all available assistance programs. In addition, www.disasterassistance.gov has been enhanced to provide a one-stop shop for information on how to file a claim with BP and access additional assistance—available in English and Spanish.

SBA Economic Injury Assistance Loans Approved for Louisiana
SBA has approved 36 economic injury assistance loans to date, totaling $1,257,000, for small businesses in Louisiana impacted by the BP oil spill. Additionally, the agency has granted deferments on 272 existing SBA disaster loans in the Gulf Coast region, totaling $1,123,300 per month in payments. For information on assistance loans for affected businesses, visit the SBA’s Web site at www.sba.gov/services/disasterassistance, call (800) 659-2955 (800-877-8339 for the hearing impaired), or email disastercustomerservice@sba.gov.

Interagency Team Formed to Collect and Review Oil Spill Response Solutions
In an effort to ensure that the best available methods are used in the administration’s ongoing response to the BP oil spill, Admiral Allen has directed the establishment a new team—the Interagency Alternative Technology Assessment Program (IATAP) working group—to collect and review oil spill response solutions from scientists and vendors.

The Coast Guard’s Research and Development Center (RDC), in collaboration with interagency partners, issued a Broad Agency Announcement on www.FedBizOpps.gov, calling for the submission of white papers that cover: oil sensing improvements to response and detection; oil wellhead control and submerged oil response; traditional oil spill response technologies; alternative oil spill response technologies; and oil spill damage assessment and restoration. The IATAP and the RDC will screen submissions based on technical feasibility, potential effectiveness and deployment capability.

USDA Hosts Tribal Conference Call to Discuss Available Programs 
Department of Agriculture officials hosted a conference call with tribal governments in the Gulf Coast region to discuss the impacts on agricultural resources and wildlife from the BP oil spill and provide information on available USDA programs to recover impacted wildlife, remediate oil-contaminated soils, and assist families experiencing financial loss as a result of the oil spill with access to nutrition assistance programs.

NOAA Ship Returns from Mission to Study Subsurface Plume and Currents
The NOAA Ship Gordon Gunter, a 224-foot research vessel, returned from an eight-day subsurface oil detection mission in the vicinity of the leaking wellhead. The results collected by scientists aboard will be analyzed by NOAA. The mission is an ongoing public-private collaborative effort between NOAA, the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, University of New Hampshire, University of South Florida and federal partners.

The contract vessel Beau Rivage completed seafood sampling in the Gulf of Mexico and was expected to return today to Pascagoula, Miss. Samples will be offloaded and transferred to NOAA’s National Seafood Inspection Laboratory for analysis.

Large Part of Previously-Closed Florida Fishing Area Opened; New Closure Near Panhandle; 68 Percent Remains Open
NOAA has opened more than 16,000 square miles of previously closed fishing area off the Florida coast. The most significant opening is a 13,653-square mile area just west of the Florida Keys and Dry Tortugas. It was initially closed on June 2 as a precaution because oil was projected to be within the area; however, the review of satellite imagery, radar and aerial data indicated that oil had not moved into the area.
 
Additionally, the agency closed a 2,275-square mile area off the Florida panhandle federal-state waterline, extending the northern boundary just east of the western edge of Choctawhatchee Bay. This federal closure does not apply to any state waters. Closing fishing in these areas is a precautionary measure to ensure that seafood from the Gulf will remain safe for consumers.

The closed area now represents 78,182 square miles, which is approximately 32 percent of Gulf of Mexico federal waters. This leaves more than 68 percent of Gulf federal waters available for fishing. Details can be found at http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/.

By the Numbers to Date:

  • The administration has authorized 17,500 National Guard troops from Gulf Coast states to participate in the response to the BP oil spill.
  • More than 20,000 personnel are currently responding to protect the shoreline and wildlife and cleanup vital coastlines.
  • More than 1,900 vessels are responding on site, including skimmers, tugs, barges, and recovery vessels to assist in containment and cleanup efforts—in addition to dozens of aircraft, remotely operated vehicles, and multiple mobile offshore drilling units.
  • Approximately 2 million feet of containment boom and 2.3 million feet of sorbent boom have been deployed to contain the spill—and approximately 745,000 feet of containment boom and 2.1 million feet of sorbent boom are available.
  • Approximately 15 million gallons of an oil-water mix have been recovered.
  • Approximately 1.02 million gallons of total dispersant have been deployed—765,000 on the surface and 255,000 subsea. More than 450,000 gallons are available.
  • 125 controlled burns have been conducted, efficiently removing a total of more than 3.2 million gallons of oil from the open water in an effort to protect shoreline and wildlife.
  • 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.
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