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
The Ongoing Administration-Wide Response to the Deepwater BP Oil Spill
Prepared by the Joint Information Center
UPDATED June 7, 2010 7 PM
In the Past 24 Hours
President Meets with Cabinet Members and Other Top Officials at White House
President Obama met with members of his cabinet and other top U.S. government officials involved in the ongoing administration-wide response to the BP oil spill in the Cabinet Room at the White House.
Following the meeting, the President again reiterated the federal government’s commitment to ensuring that BP fulfills every claim obligation. “We are going to insist that money flows quickly—in a timely basis—so that you don’t have a shrimp processor or a fisherman who’s going out of business before BP finally makes up its mind as to whether or not it’s going to pay out,” the President said. “That’s going to be one of our top priorities, because we know that no matter how successful we are over the next few weeks in some of the containment efforts, the damages are going to be there.” A transcript is available here.
Admiral Allen and Press Secretary Gibbs Provide Operational Update
National Incident Commander Admiral Thad Allen and White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs 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 the White House press briefing room. A transcript is available here.
Admiral Allen included a slide (pdf) in his briefing that presents a three-dimensional view of the response and the four different areas of operations: in the subsea area near the well; on the surface above the well; within 50 miles of the coast; and on the shoreline. “We’re no longer dealing with a large, monolithic spill,” Allen said. “We’re dealing with an aggregation of hundreds or thousands of patches of oil that are going a lot of different directions. And we’ve had to adapt and we need to adapt to be able to meet that threat.”
BP Continues to Capture Some Oil and Gas Using Containment Device
BP continues to capture some oil and burn some gas at the surface using its containment dome technique, which is being executed under the federal government’s direction. After cutting off a portion of the riser, BP placed a containment device over it in order to capture oil at its source.
EPA Continues to Monitor Air, Water and Sediment Quality in the Gulf Coast
According to the most recent data, the Environmental Protection Agency has found that air quality levels for ozone and particulates are normal on the Gulf coastline for this time of year. Likewise, water and sediment samples along the Gulf Coast did not reveal elevated levels of chemicals usually found in oil.
EPA has observed odor-causing pollutants associated with petroleum products in the air along the coastline at low levels. Some of these chemicals may cause short-lived effects like headache, eye, nose and throat irritation, or nausea. People may be able to smell some of these chemicals at levels well below those that would cause short-term health problems. Anyone experiencing these and other symptoms should call the Medical Support Line at 1-888-623-0287.
Fishing Restrictions Decrease by One Percent; 68 Percent Remains Open
Today, NOAA opened 430 square miles of previously closed fishing area off the Florida panhandle – the northern boundary now ends at the Florida federal-state water line on the east side of Choctawhatchee Bay. This area was initially closed on June 5 as a precaution because oil was projected to be within the area over the next 48 hours. However, the review of satellite imagery, radar and aerial data indicated that oil had not moved into the area.
The closed area now represents 78,264 square miles, which is approximately 32 percent of Gulf of Mexico federal waters—the closed area does not apply to any state waters. This leaves approximately 68 percent of Gulf federal waters available for fishing. Closing fishing in these areas is a precautionary measure to ensure that seafood from the Gulf will remain safe for consumers. Details can be found at http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/.
Administration Continues to Oversee BP’s Claims Process
The administration will continue to hold the responsible parties accountable for repairing the damage, and repaying Americans who’ve suffered a financial loss as a result of the BP oil spill. BP reports that 38,052 claims have been opened, from which more than $48.6 million have been disbursed. No claims have been denied to date. There are 514 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.
SBA Economic Injury Assistance Loans Approved for Louisiana
SBA has approved 43 economic injury assistance loans to date, totaling $1,8 million for small businesses in Louisiana impacted by the BP oil spill. Additionally, the agency has granted deferments on 301 existing SBA disaster loans in the Gulf Coast region, totaling $1,253,800 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 email@example.com.
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.
By the Numbers to Date: