Ongoing Administration-Wide Response to the Deepwater BP Oil Spill, August 16, 2010

Washington, D.C.–(ENEWSPF)–August 16, 2010.

PAST 24 HOURS

Commerce Secretary Gary Locke Visits Louisiana

At the direction of President Obama, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke traveled to Louisiana, where he toured a Gulf seafood processing plant in Lafitte, La, and attended lunch with members of the local seafood and restaurant industry in Metairie, La.

“We need to let the American people know that the seafood being harvested from the Gulf is safe to eat,” Locke said during the seafood facility tour. “I think there have been a lot of misperceptions out there. A lot of testing is done before we open state and federal waters to fishing. We’re being very thoughtful, very careful and very deliberate.”

Secretary Locke also held an economic roundtable with community members and business people impacted by the BP oil spill. This was Locke’s third visit to Louisiana since the spill began.

Admiral Allen Provides an Update on the BP Oil Spill Response

National Incident Commander Admiral Thad Allen provided a briefing to inform the American public and answer questions about the administration-wide response to the BP oil spill.

“As I briefed last week and over the weekend, we are in the process right now of developing courses of action that would inform our decision when to execute the directive to BP due to the final intercept of the relief well which we will do,” said Admiral Allen. “We are currently working with BP engineers and our science team to look at test results and do investigations to lead us to the best way to mitigate any risk of intercepting the annulus and increasing the pressure in the annulus.”

Admiral Allen Announces the Deployment of 19 Additional Economic Assessment and Evaluation Teams

These interagency teams will work with communities in Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, and Texas to help them orient to their economic situation, develop action steps, and will offer guidance geared towards spearheading post-event economic recovery efforts.

The teams are comprised of economic development practitioners, industry experts, and government officials that will conduct in-depth analyses of critical issues faced by the impacted communities, provide recommendations, and suggest potential solutions to issues of industry migration, workforce skills, small business needs, and infrastructure access and management. Two teams were deployed today to two counties in Florida. Two teams earlier were deployed in pilot assessments in two coastal Louisiana parishes.

While on the ground, teams work with local leadership from regional government, chambers of commerce and economic development organizations, business representatives from key industries, and others. After their initial visits, assessment teams intend to develop reports, which will be shared with communities.

Secretary Locke Announces $31.3 Million in Restoration and Recovery Grants

At an economic roundtable in Metairie, La., Locke announced $31.3 million total in coastal restoration and economic development grants for Louisiana and the Gulf Coast.

“These grants are another sign of this administration’s commitment to help the Gulf Coast’s economy and environment recover in the wake of the BP oil spill,” Locke said.

A $30.7 million restoration grant, awarded to the Louisiana Office of Coastal Protection and Restoration by the Department of Commerce’s NOAA, will fund the restoration of a critical barrier headland near Port Fourchon, La. The headland, which experiences some of the highest shoreline retreat rates in the nation, protects vital bay and wetland habitat and property from storm surge and erosion. Louisiana’s coastal habitat is the state’s first line of defense during storms, reducing the devastating effects of wind, waves, and flooding.

DOI Announces Limited Categorical Exclusions for Gulf Offshore Activity During Reviews

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement Director Michael R. Bromwich today announced that the department will restrict its use of categorical exclusions for offshore oil and gas development to activities involving limited environmental risk, while it undertakes a comprehensive review of its National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) process and the use of categorical exclusions for exploration and drilling on the Outer Continental Shelf.

“In light of the increasing levels of complexity and risk—and the consequent potential environmental impacts—associated with deepwater drilling, we are taking a fresh look at the NEPA process and the types of environmental reviews that should be required for offshore activity,” Secretary Salazar said. “We are committed to full compliance with both the letter and the spirit of NEPA. Our decision-making must be fully informed by an understanding of the potential environmental consequences of federal actions permitting offshore oil and gas development.”

HHS Secretary Sebelius Addresses Mental Health Issues Resulting from the Oil Spill

Secretary of Health and Human Services addressed BP’s intention to contribute $52 million to help address the immense behavioral health (substance abuse and mental health) needs.

“From the fishing community to the local tourism industry, individuals in affected areas face an uncertain economic future, causing significant anger and resentment,” she said. “In addition to the stress resulting from a potentially permanent disruption of their livelihoods, residents are and will remain concerned about the immediate and long-term effects of the oil spill on their health. The long-term effects of the cleanup efforts on the workers are not yet known.

“These factors combined indicate a substantial behavioral health need.  Already disaster coordinators in the affected states are reporting that some individuals in the impacted areas are exhibiting early signs of substance abuse and dependence, psychiatric disorders, suicidal tendencies, and familial breakdown, including divorce and abuse. The impact can be especially severe on children.”

Approved SBA Economic Injury Assistance Loans Surpass $20.4 Million

SBA has approved 247 economic injury assistance loans to date, totaling more than $21.9 million for small businesses in the Gulf Coast impacted by the BP oil spill. Additionally, the agency has granted deferments on 826 existing SBA disaster loans in the region, totaling more than $4.5 million per month in payments. For information on assistance loans for affected businesses, visit the SBA’s Web site at www.sba.gov/services/disasterassistance, call (800) 659-2955 (800-877-8339 for the hearing impaired), or email [email protected].

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 have suffered a financial loss as a result of the BP oil spill. To date, 150,396 claims have been opened, from which more than $356 million have been disbursed. No claims have been denied to date. There are 1,240 claims adjusters on the ground. To file a claim, visit www.bp.com/claims or call BP’s helpline at 1-800-440-0858. Those who have already pursued the BP claims process and are not satisfied with BP’s resolution can call the Coast Guard at (800) 280-7118. Additional information about the BP claims process and all available avenues of assistance can be found at www.disasterassistance.gov.

By the Numbers to Date:

  • The administration has authorized the deployment of 17,500 National Guard troops from Gulf Coast states to respond to this crisis; currently, 1,376 are active.
  • More than 28,277 personnel are currently responding to protect the shoreline and wildlife and cleanup vital coastlines.
  • More than 4,359* vessels are currently responding on site, including skimmers, tugs, barges, and recovery vessels to assist in containment and cleanup efforts—in addition to dozens of aircraft, remotely operated vehicles, and multiple mobile offshore drilling units.
  • Approximately 2.25 million feet of containment boom** and 8.78 million feet of sorbent boom have been deployed to contain the spill—and approximately 1.35 million feet of containment boom and 3.6 million feet of sorbent boom are available.
  • More than 34.7 million gallons of an oil-water mix have been recovered.
  • Approximately 1.84 million gallons of total dispersant have been applied—1.07 million on the surface and 771,000 sub-sea. Approximately 577,000 gallons are available.
  • 411 controlled burns have been conducted, efficiently removing a total of more than 11.14 million gallons of oil from the open water in an effort to protect shoreline and wildlife. Because calculations on the volume of oil burned can take more than 48 hours, the reported total volume may not reflect the most recent controlled burns.
  • 17 staging areas are in place to protect sensitive shorelines.
  • Approximately 672 miles of Gulf Coast shoreline is currently oiled—approximately 375 miles in Louisiana, 117 miles in Mississippi, 72 miles in Alabama, and 108 miles in Florida. These numbers reflect a daily snapshot of shoreline currently experiencing impacts from oil so that planning and field operations can more quickly respond to new impacts; they do not include cumulative impacts to date, or shoreline that has already been cleared.
  • Approximately 52,395 square miles of Gulf of Mexico federal waters remain closed to fishing in order to balance economic and public health concerns. Approximately 78 percent remains open. Details can be found at http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/.
  • To date, the administration has leveraged assets and skills from numerous foreign countries and international organizations as part of this historic, all-hands-on-deck response, including Argentina, Belgium, Canada, China, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Qatar, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, the United Nations’ International Maritime Organization, the European Union’s Monitoring and Information Centre, and the European Maritime Safety Agency.

*The decreases in personnel and equipment are a result of the temporary suspension of some response operations due to the effects of severe weather.

**The decrease in boom numbers is due to the continued recovery of displaced boom. Once recovered, this boom must be decontaminated, repaired, inspected, and certified before being staged or redeployed. New boom is being deployed in some areas.

 

Source: deepwaterhorizonresponse.com