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Washington D.C.
Unified Command Joint Information Center
News Release
Friday, May 21, 2010

UPDATED May 21, 2010 7 PM

 * For a full timeline of the Administration-wide response, visit the White House Blog.


Team Works to Provide Scientifically Validated Flow Rate Information

The National Incident Command’s Flow Rate Technical Group (FRTG) is coordinating efforts across the federal government to support the response and inform the public by providing scientifically validated information about the amount of oil flowing from BP’s leaking oil well while ensuring the vital efforts to cap the leak are not impeded.   

The administration-wide response efforts have always been geared toward the possibility of a catastrophic event, and our deployment of resources and our tactics have been based on such a worst case scenario not an inexact number. With the source of the oil 5,000 feet under the ocean’s surface, it has been extremely difficult to estimate oil flow rate in an environment that prohibits human access.   

The FRTG reflects the federal government’s clear understanding of the value of determining an oil flow rate, both in regards to the continued response and recovery, as well as the important role this information may play in the final investigation of the failure of the blowout preventer and the resulting spill. The group expects to have an initial flow assessment completed by early next week.

Secretary Chu Postpones Trip to China to Focus on Scientific Oil Spill Response

Energy Secretary Steven Chu is postponing a trip to China, scheduled for next week, at the request of President Obama, in order to stay in the country to continue his work on response efforts to the BP oil spill. Secretary Chu was originally scheduled to visit Beijing and Shanghai and discuss further progress on bilateral clean energy cooperation.

Secretary Chu has been working with the Department of Energy’s National Laboratories and other top scientists to help BP determine how to stop the leak, and exploring ideas about the most effective scientific and engineering approaches to the problem.

The Department of Energy has also been offering its resources and technical assistance to the Flow Rate Technical Group.

Federal Officials Meet with BP to Discuss Top Kill Method

Federal officials and scientists have been working with BP engineers on the review of the various operations, procedures and contingencies that will be used during the “top kill” attempt.  Federal officials met with the BP Top Kill Management Team to discuss critical decision processes regarding carrying out the top kill. The current schedule for the “top kill” is May 23-25, and the total operation could take several days to complete.

Plans Are Made for Long-Term National Parks Recovery Process

National Parks Service Science Advisor Dr. Gary Machlis will lead an Interior Department Science Team to work on long-term recovery strategies. NPS is currently identifying and developing multi-disciplinary position descriptions and working with human resources to initiate personnel actions. Most of the long-term recovery positions will be "Emergency Hires". DOI has deployed more than 630 personnel to focus on the BP Oil Spill response.

By the Numbers to Date:

  • Personnel were quickly deployed and approximately 24,000 are currently responding to protect the shoreline and wildlife.
  • More than 1,100 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 1.46 million feet of containment boom and 560,000 feet of sorbent boom have been deployed to contain the spill—and approximately 370,000 feet of containment boom and 1.28 million feet of sorbent boom are available.
  • More than 8.9 million gallons of an oil-water mix have been recovered.
  • Approximately 670,000 gallons of total dispersant have been deployed—600,000 on the surface and 70,000 subsea. More than 340,000 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.


  • To contact the Deepwater Horizon Joint Information Center, call (985) 902-5231.
  • To volunteer, or to report oiled shoreline, call (866) 448-5816. Volunteer opportunities can also be found here.
  • To submit your vessel as a vessel of opportunity skimming system, or to submit alternative response technology, services, or products, call 281-366-5511.
  • To report oiled wildlife, call (866) 557-1401. Messages will be checked hourly.
  • For information about validated environmental air and water sampling results, visit
  • To file a claim, or report spill-related damage, call BP’s helpline at (800) 440-0858. A BP fact sheet with additional information is available here. For 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.  More information about what types of damages are eligible for compensation under the Oil Pollution Act as well as guidance on procedures to seek that compensation can be found here.  

Remembering Jim Guidry

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