Washington, D.C.–(ENEWSPF)–July 23, 2010.
PAST 24 HOURS
President Obama Receives a Briefing on Preparations for Severe Weather in the Gulf
President Obama was briefed today by Deputy National Incident Commander Rear Admiral Pete Neffenger on the ongoing administration-wide response to the Deepwater Horizon BP oil spill, and by FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate and Deputy FEMA Administrator Rich Serino on the preparations for potential impacts of then Tropical Storm Bonnie along the Gulf Coast. Bonnie has since been downgraded to a tropical depression.
Fugate and Serino discussed FEMA’s close coordination with state and local officials in potentially affected states, including Florida, Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi and Texas. FEMA is continuing to monitor the storm’s movement through its regional offices along the Gulf Coast, and has pre-positioned commodities and staff across the Gulf Coast should assistance be requested from those states. Those supplies include water, meals, tarps, blankets, generators and other essential items.
The President stressed that the team needs to be prepared for all scenarios and do everything needed to protect the residents and communities of the Gulf Coast including the oil response personnel and ensure that all oil response efforts will resume as soon as the storm passes.
Admiral Allen Provides an Operational Update on the BP Oil Spill Response
National Incident Commander Admiral Allen provided a briefing to inform the American public and answer questions on the progress of the administration-wide response to the BP oil spill. Allen discussed the approaching storm Bonnie, now a tropical depression, and its impact on response operations and the drilling of the relief wells. He also provided details on preparations for the storm and plans to monitor the well site with aerial surveillance and satellite imagery in case ROVs are required to leave the scene.
Allen cited the safety of personnel and preservation of equipment as top priorities. In response to a question about the decision to move equipment to higher ground, Allen said: “I think we all share the same goals, and that’s to minimize the impact on life and property and the ability to protect not only people but the environment.” He added: “I’m still haunted by the specter of flying in over New Orleans on the 5th, 6th of September as a principal federal official, looking down into New Orleans to a parking lot full of buses that were flooded and not used for evacuation because they were not moved in time.”
First Lady Addresses BP Oil Spill Response
In Pascagoula, Miss., First Lady Michelle Obama christened National Security Cutter Stratton and praised the Coast Guard for its response to the oil spill and other duties. “Our Coast Guard men and women were the first on the scene when that rig exploded, and they have been here ever since. And I had the pleasure of meeting with some of them this morning. They make us proud,” Obama said. “They come from all over the country to help with the largest response of its kind in American history.”
The ceremony was also attended by Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, U.S. Rep. Gene Taylor, Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Robert J. Papp, Mississippi First Lady Marsha Barbour and a host of elected officials from South Mississippi.
2nd Federal Analysis Gives Further Clues about Location & Movement of Subsurface Oil
NOAA, EPA, and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy today released their second peer-reviewed, analytical summary report about subsurface oil monitoring in the Gulf of Mexico—part of continued efforts to engage the best scientific minds in the BP oil spill response. The report contains preliminary data collected at 227 sampling stations extending from one to 52 kilometers from the wellhead. Data shows movement of subsurface oil is consistent with ocean currents and that concentrations continue to be more diffuse as you move away from the source of the leak. This confirms the findings of the previous report.
The report comes from the Joint Analysis Group (JAG) and contains data analysis of fluorometric measurements and comments on the methods used to monitor dissolved oxygen levels. Data were collected from a fleet of research vessels—the R/V Brooks McCall, R/V Ocean Veritas, R/V Walton Smith, NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson and NOAA Ship Gordon Gunter—between May 19 and June 19, 2010. The fluorometric data provide additional information on the likely presence of sub-surface oil and its location in the water column. The report indicates that subsurface oil concentrations are highest near the wellhead and become more diffuse farther away from the source.
NPS, FWS and State Partners Relocate 89 Eggs from Endangered Sea Turtles
As part of continued efforts to protect wildlife and wildlife habitats from the impacts of the BP oil spill, representatives from the National Parks Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Florida Wildlife Conservation Commission, and other key federal, state and private partners excavated 89 Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle eggs from a nest in the Fort Pickens Area of Gulf Islands National Seashore, near Pensacola Beach on Santa Rosa Island, Fla.
The eggs will be sent to a NASA facility near Cape Canaveral National Seashore and Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge for incubation. Once hatched and deemed medically stable, the hatchlings are released into the Atlantic Ocean. Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles are an endangered species, and this is the first nest to be relocated from Gulf Islands National Seashore.
Approved SBA Economic Injury Assistance Loans Surpass $15.5 Million
SBA has approved 186 economic injury assistance loans to date, totaling more than $15.5 million for small businesses in the Gulf Coast impacted by the BP oil spill. Additionally, the agency has granted deferments on 707 existing SBA disaster loans in the region, totaling more than $3.7 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’ve suffered a financial loss as a result of the BP oil spill. To date, 125,539 claims have been opened, from which more than $239 million have been disbursed. No claims have been denied to date. There are 1,187 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, 1,676 are active.
- Approximately 40,800 personnel are currently responding to protect the shoreline and wildlife and cleanup vital coastlines.
- More than 4,300 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.
- More than 3.44 million feet* of containment boom and 7.82 million feet of sorbent boom have been deployed to contain the spill—and approximately 872,000 feet of containment boom and 2.97 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 629 miles of Gulf Coast shoreline is currently oiled—approximately 362 miles in Louisiana, 107 miles in Mississippi, 70 miles in Alabama, and 90 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 57,539 square miles of Gulf of Mexico federal waters remain closed to fishing in order to balance economic and public health concerns. Approximately 76 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.
* Boom deployed numbers have dropped due to pre-storm recovery operations. Once recovered, this boom must be decontaminated, repaired, inspected, and certified before being staged or redeployed.