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Washington D.C.
Unified Command Joint Information Center
News Release
Saturday, May 15, 2010

UPDATED May 15, 2010 5 PM

* For a full timeline of the Administration-wide response, visit the White House Blog. http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2010/05/05/ongoing-administration-wide-response-deepwater-bp-oil-spill 

PAST 24 HOURS

Secretaries Napolitano and Salazar Seek Clarification of BP’s Redress Intentions

Secretary Napolitano and Secretary Salazar sent a letter to BP CEO Tony Hayward publicly holding BP’s feet to fire. As the President said yesterday, this administration is committed to ensuring that those affected are compensated. The Secretaries reiterated that as a responsible party for this event, BP is accountable to the American public for the full clean up of this spill and all the economic loss caused by the spill and related events.

Coast Guard and EPA Approve Use of Dispersant Subsea

The U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced they have authorized BP to use dispersants underwater, at the source of the Deepwater Horizon leak. Oil spill dispersants are chemicals that attempt to break down the oil into small drops and prevent it from reaching the surface or the U.S. shoreline. Dispersants are generally less harmful than the highly toxic oil leaking from the source and biodegrade in a much shorter time span.

The use of the dispersant at the source of the leak represents a novel approach to addressing the significant environmental threat posed by the spill. Preliminary testing results indicate that subsea use of the dispersant is effective at reducing the amount of oil from reaching the surface—and can do so with the use of less dispersant than is needed when the oil does reach the surface. This is an important step to reduce the potential for damage from oil reaching fragile wetlands and coastal areas.

This course of action was decided upon with thorough evaluation and consideration of many factors as well as consultation with stakeholders. While BP pursues the use of subsea dispersants, the federal government will require regular analysis of its effectiveness and impact on the environment, water and air quality, and human health through a rigorous monitoring program. EPA's directive to BP, including the monitoring plan the company must adhere to in order to ensure the protection of the environment and public health, is publicly available at www.epa.gov/bpspill/dispersants.

Secretary Salazar Visits Wildlife Rehabilitations Center

Secretary Salazar visited Fort Jackson Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Buras, La., today to examine efforts being undertaken by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and its partners to protect and rehabilitate wildlife affected by the BP oil spill. Salazar also visited the Unified Area Command facility in Robert, La., for a briefing.

Fishing Restrictions Extended; More Than 92 Percent Remains Open

NOAA Fisheries revised the federal fishery closure boundaries late on May 14. The new closure will cover is a precautionary measure to ensure public safety and assure consumer confidence of Gulf of Mexico seafood. These changes will leave more than 92 percent of the Gulf’s federal waters open for fishing, and supporting productive fisheries and tourism. More details can be found here http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/deepwater_horizon_oil_spill.htm.

Staging Area Total Grows to 17

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.

Progress Made in Relief Well Drilling Preparations

The Development Driller III, which will dig the first relief well, is lowering the blowout preventer stack and riser. The report depth was nearly 3,000 feet as of 7 p.m. EDT on Friday, May 14. After initial review by MMS, BP revised and resubmitted the Application for Permit to Drill the second relief well, which will be undertaken by the Development Driller II—which is on location and making preparations for initiating the drilling process.

Wildlife Hotline Taking Calls

The Wildlife Hotline has received a total of 17 calls for birds, fish, marine mammals, and reptiles which have not been confirmed. The Wildlife Rehabilitation Centers in Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida have received wildlife and have been conducting to treatment and rehabilitation.

Water Contamination Devices Installed in Everglades

A National Park Service crew installed three Semi-Permeable Membrane Devices in the Gulf Coast District of Everglades National Park to detect contamination in the water.

Mussel Watch Team is Dispatched

A NOAA Mussel Watch team has been sent to the Gulf to collect mussel samples, including oyster tissue, sediments, and water from Atchafalaya Bay, La., west to the Brazos River, Texas. The team has partnered with the Louisiana Department of Fish and Game to collect remaining sites in Louisiana, and will then work with the NMFS Galveston Laboratory to collect sites along the Texas coast. Mussel Watch is the longest continuous contaminant monitoring program in U.S. coastal waters.

NOAA Research Ship Re-Deployed to Spill Response

The NOAA Ship Gordon Gunter, previously scheduled to conduct plankton research in the Gulf of Mexico, is now providing information for oil spill related research.

By the Numbers to Date:

*Personnel were quickly deployed and approximately 17,500 are currently responding to protect the shoreline and wildlife.

*More than 600 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.

*More than 1.25 million feet of containment boom and 415,000 feet of sorbent boom have been deployed to contain the spill—and approximately 270,000 feet of containment boom and 900,000 feet of sorbent boom are available.

*More than 6 million gallons of an oil-water mix have been recovered.

*Approximately 560,000 gallons of dispersant have been deployed. More than 260,000 gallons are available.

*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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