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.
In a visit that encompassed three states—Alabama, Florida and Mississippi—the President made his fourth trip to the Gulf Coast to assess the ongoing efforts to counter the 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 14, 2010 7 PM
In the Past 24 Hours
President Obama Visits Alabama, Florida and Mississippi
In a visit that encompassed three states—Alabama, Florida and Mississippi—the President made his fourth trip to the Gulf Coast to assess the ongoing efforts to counter the BP oil spill.
The President met with officials directing the response effort and local residents and business people affected by the spill; observed shoreline impacts firsthand on a boat tour; and visited a response staging facility in Theodore, Ala.—where he reiterated his administration’s commitment to a strong, sustained response to one of the worst environmental disasters in our nation’s history.
In his remarks, the President conceded that he could not promise that the oil would be cleaned up overnight, adding: “But I promise you this: that things are going to return to normal. This region that’s known a lot of hardship will bounce back—just like it’s bounced back before. We are going to do everything we can, 24/7, to make sure that communities get back on their feet. And in the end, I am confident that we’re going to be able to leave the Gulf Coast in better shape than it was before.” Click here for a full transcript.
The President Announces Members of His Commission to Ensure Safety and Responsibility in Oil and Gas Development
The President announced members of the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling—Frances G. Beinecke, President of the Natural Resources Defense Council; Donald Boesch, President of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science; Terry D. Garcia, Executive Vice President for Mission Programs for the National Geographic Society; Cherry A. Murray, Dean of the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences; and Frances Ulmer, Chancellor of the University of Alaska Anchorage. Click here for complete biographies.
The bipartisan Commission, established through an Executive Order, is tasked with providing recommendations on how we can prevent—and mitigate the impact of—any future spills that result from offshore drilling. The Council is co-chaired by former two-term Florida Governor and former U.S. Senator Bob Graham and former Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency William K. Reilly.
Rear Admiral Watson Responds to BP’s Latest Containment Strategies
Federal On-Scene Coordinator Rear Admiral James Watson today responded to BP’s latest containment strategies (pdf). On Friday, Watson sent a letter (pdf) to BP—directing the company to devise a more aggressive plan to build greater capacity and redundancy for oil containment.
After being directed to move more quickly, BP is now stepping up its efforts to contain the leaking oil. They have now outlined a path to contain the more than the full upper end of the current per-day flow estimate by the end of June using additional strategies that weren't contained in their original plan. Their revised plan also includes methods to achieve even greater redundancy beyond the month of June, to better allow for bad weather or unforeseen circumstances. We have continuously demanded strategies and responses from BP that fit the realities of this catastrophic event, for which they are responsible. The administration will continue to hold them accountable and bring every possible resource and innovation to bear.
Federal Agencies Introduce Online Mapping Tool to Track Gulf Response
The administration launched a new federal Web site, www.GeoPlatform.gov/gulfresponse/, designed to be a one-stop shop for detailed near-real-time information about the response to the BP oil spill and to facilitate communication and coordination among a variety of users—from federal, state and local responders to local community leaders and the public.
The site incorporates data from the various agencies that are working together to tackle the spill—including NOAA, the Coast Guard, Fish and Wildlife Service, EPA, NASA, USGS, DHS and Gulf states—into one customizable interactive map.
Vessels of Opportunity Continues to Expand; Prioritizes Commercial Boats
To date, more than 2,300 vessels have been hired as part of the Vessels of Opportunity program, and are working aggressively in multiple shifts across the Gulf to perform a variety of important tasks, including deploying and monitoring containment boom, transporting equipment and personnel and surface and subsurface surveillance (looking for oil).
The VOO program hires vessels of all sizes—with a priority placed on commercial vessels that make their living on the sea—to perform critical response tasks to mitigate the oil’s impact on our vital shorelines. Compensation depends on the size of the vessel and ranges from $1,200-$3,000 per day. Crew members are paid $200 per eight-hour shift.
Vessel owners interested in the VOO program should call the VOO Hotline at (866) 279-7983 or visit www.deepwaterhorizonresponse.com.
Foreign Countries and International Organizations Contribute to Response Efforts
To date, the administration has leveraged assets and skills from numerous foreign countries and international organizations as part of this historic, all-hands-on-deck response, including Canada, Germany, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, the United Nations’ International Maritime Organization and the European Union's Monitoring and Information Centre.
The Unified Command continues to look at all available options for assistance as we continue to fight BP's oil from impacting our shores and our communities. Assistance provided to date includes containment and sorbent boom, skimmers and containment vessels, and engineers and scientists with vital experience in oil spill cleanup operations.
NOAA, FDA Continue Ramping Up Efforts to Ensure Safety of Gulf of Mexico Seafood
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Food and Drug Administration are taking additional steps to enhance inspection measures designed to ensure that seafood from the Gulf of Mexico is safe and free from contamination by oil—including precautionary closures, increased seafood testing inspections and a re-opening protocol once closed areas meet FDA standards for public health and wholesomeness.
The closed fisheries 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. Details can be found at http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/. Fisherman and consumers are encouraged to report potential seafood safety issues to 1-888-INFO-FDA.
EPA Continues to Monitor Air, Water and Sediment Quality in the Gulf
According to the most recent data, the Environmental Protection Agency has found that air quality levels for ozone and particulates on the Gulf coastline are normal for this time of year.
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, such as headache, nausea or eye, nose and throat irritation. 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 (888) 623-0287.
EPA has deployed field teams to collect samples of oily debris, tar balls, mousse oil and other petroleum waste products that have washed up on the Gulf Coast shoreline. Preliminary results have shown chemical constituents that are usually found in petroleum products.
Fish and Wildlife Service Continues Monitoring, Rescue and Recovery Missions
The Fish and Wildlife Service continues to coordinate and supervise search and capture for oiled wildlife—conducting aerial flights to identify oiled wildlife and helping facilitate recovery and treatment, and leading 17 bird survey teams in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida to determine the extent of the oil impact on birds. FWS is training four additional teams for survey work in Texas, and has dispatched 456 staff to deal with Gulf response efforts.
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.
Approved SBA Economic Injury Assistance Loans Surpass $3.8 Million
SBA has approved 63 economic injury assistance loans to date, totaling more than $3.8 million for small businesses in the Gulf Coast impacted by the BP oil spill. Additionally, the agency has granted deferments on 377 existing SBA disaster loans in the region, totaling more than $1.65 per month in payments. For information on assistance loans for affected businesses, visit the SBA’s Web site at www.sba.gov/services/disasterassistance, call (800) 659-2955 (800-877-8339 for the hearing impaired), or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Administration Continues to Oversee BP’s Claims Process
The administration will continue to hold the responsible parties accountable for repairing the damage, and repaying Americans who’ve suffered a financial loss as a result of the BP oil spill. BP reports that 51,329 claims have been opened, from which more than $63.2 million have been disbursed. No claims have been denied to date. There are 609 claims adjusters on the ground. To file a claim, visit www.bp.com/claims or call BP’s helpline at 1-800-440-0858. Those who have already pursued the BP claims process and are not satisfied with BP’s resolution can call the Coast Guard at (800) 280-7118. Additional information about the BP claims process and all available avenues of assistance can be found at www.disasterassistance.gov.
By the Numbers to Date: