The Ongoing Administration-Wide Response to the Deepwater BP Oil Spill
UPDATED 7 PM
* For a full timeline of the Administration-wide response, visit the White House Blog.
PAST 24 HOURS
The President Meets with the Family Members of the Victims of the Oil Rig Disaster
In the Red Room and the State Dining Room, the President had individual discussions with family members of the victims of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig disaster. He was joined by Secretary Ken Salazar, Carol Browner, Valerie Jarrett and Admiral Thad Allen.
The President expressed his condolences and told them that he, the First Lady and the entire administration are behind them and will be there long after the cameras are gone as they go through their unimaginable grief. He also said that while offshore drilling is a part of our nation’s overall energy strategy, he simply could not go forward with new deepwater drilling until we have the proper safety measures in place to ensure that a tragedy like this never happens again.
Admiral Allen Invites BP to Meet with the President and Other Senior Officials
National Incident Commander Admiral Thad Allen today sent a letter to BP Chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg, requesting that he and other BP officials travel to Washington to meet with senior Administration officials on Wednesday, June 16—to discuss BP’s financial responsibility for all costs associated with the spill. The President will participate in a portion of the meeting.
The President Discusses Oil Spill Priorities with Congressional Leaders
The President hosted Congressional leaders from both parties to talk through the months ahead and make sure they are as productive as possible. Included at the top of his list of priorities was the ongoing response to the BP oil spill disaster.
The President provided an update about measures that are being taken as part of the single largest national response in United States history to an environmental disaster, and led a frank conversation about the fact that the laws that have been in place have not been adequate for a crisis of this magnitude. The Oil Pollution Act was passed at a time when people didn’t envision drilling four miles under the sea for oil.
Congress Sends a Bill to the President Allowing Continued Response Funding
Congress passed a bill that will allow the movement of monies from the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund Principal Fund to the Emergency Fund to enable the continuation of ongoing response operations. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano made the following statement:
“I applaud Congress for acting quickly to send a bill to the President that will allow the Coast Guard to continue leveraging every available resource to protect our vital shorelines from BP’s leaking oil,” said Secretary Napolitano. “Lifting the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund spending cap by moving monies from the Principal Fund to the Emergency Fund will enable the Federal On-Scene Coordinator to continue directing funds for critical administration-wide response activities in advance of reimbursement by BP, as a responsible party. While these funds will allow us to continue mounting an all-hands-on-deck, relentless response, our commitment to holding BP accountable for all costs associated with this disaster—both to the federal government and to all affected individuals and businesses suffering losses as a result of this event—has not wavered.”
Officials Provide Update on Progress of Scientific Teams Analyzing Flow Rates
Under the direction of National Incident Commander Admiral Thad Allen, the Flow Rate Technical Group (FRTG), led by United States Geological Survey Director Dr. Marcia McNutt, and a scientific team led by Energy Secretary Steven Chu are analyzing new data and bringing together several scientific methodologies to develop an updated estimate of how much oil is flowing from BP’s leaking oil well in the Gulf of Mexico.
The updated estimate, which will bring together the ongoing work of scientists and engineers from the federal government, universities, and research institutions, will be of how much oil has been flowing since the riser was cut on June 3.
Additionally, three of the scientific teams analyzing flow rates have reached updated assessments, based on new data or analysis, of flow rates from BP’s well before the riser was cut. DOI and DOE have also directed BP to provide precise differential pressure measurements inside and outside the top hat to allow federal scientists to develop another independent estimate of how much oil is flowing from BP’s well. More information can be found here.
Admiral Allen Provides Operational Update of BP Oil Spill Response
National Incident Commander Admiral Thad 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. A transcript is available here.
Admiral Allen was joined by DHS’ Tracy Wareing, who is leading the federal oversight of BP’s claims process. She provided an update on her meeting yesterday with Admiral Allen and top BP claims officials to assert the administration’s oversight of BP’s claims process in order to ensure that every legitimate claim is honored and paid in an efficient manner.
In the meeting, they discussed BP’s ineffective approach of waiting until after each month’s books have closed to pay “large loss” claims—and, in response, BP indicated that they are implementing a more expedited claims process for “large losses” to provide businesses with the funds they need to pay their expenses in advance. They also discussed the current gap in BP claims assistance for seasonal workers, and BP indicated that they will verify that their process is taking into account the needs of seasonal businesses and wage earners.
Secretary Locke Makes His Second Trip to the Affected Gulf Coast
Commerce Secretary Gary Locke held meetings with business owners and employers in Mobile, Ala., Biloxi, Miss., and New Orleans, La., and conducted a flight over the coastal regions of the Gulf between Biloxi and New Orleans. He also visited a bait shop in New Orleans and had dinner with Mayor Mitch Landrieu. This trip marked his second visit to the Gulf region since the BP oil spill began.
Secretary Solis Continues Meetings with Affected Workers in the Gulf Region
Labor Secretary Solis continued her first visit to the Gulf region since the explosion on April 20 to receive briefings from Unified Command officials about the administration’s ongoing aggressive response to the BP oil spill, and inspect efforts to ensure the health, safety and well-being of workers affected by the spill and engaged in the spill response. She met with shrimp and oyster fishing workers, and discussed the response with leaders of local non-profit organizations.
Incident Command Post Activated for Florida Peninsula
Following a multi-week planning and preparation process, the Unified Command stood up a Florida Peninsula Command Post in Miami—providing a command and control structure to direct oil spill preparedness and response activities throughout Florida. The new command post reports to the Unified Area Command in Robert, La.
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.
Rigorous Deepwater Oil Production Facility Inspections Continue
Interior Department inspectors continue to examine and test all deepwater production facilities as part of the increased enforcement of existing safety regulations and procedures as outlined in Secretary Salazar’s 30-day Safety Measures Report that was sent to the President. Of the 46 deepwater production facilities required for inspection, inspectors have completed 78 percent.
Veterinarian Assigned to Work with Law Enforcement and Coordinate Rehabilitation
A U.S. Geological Survey wildlife veterinarian is providing support to the USFWS in Houma, Louisiana, with bird activities, including acting as the liaison to law enforcement wildlife incident command, acting as Louisiana wildlife morgue and the rehabilitated bird release coordinator.
Natural Resource Damage Assessment Teams Continue Wildlife Surveillance
Seventeen beached bird survey teams continued beach surveys in Mississippi, Alabama and Florida, and are planning to expand beach bird surveys into Texas and the southwest Louisiana beaches. Additional teams are undergoing training.
Approved SBA Economic Injury Assistance Loans Surpass $2.1 Million
SBA has approved 52 economic injury assistance loans to date, totaling more than $2.22 million for small businesses in the Gulf Coast impacted by the BP oil spill. Additionally, the agency has granted deferments on 346 existing SBA disaster loans in the region, totaling more than $1.6 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@example.com.
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 43,988 claims have been opened, from which more than $55.5 million have been disbursed. No claims have been denied to date. There are 536 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.
By the Numbers to Date:
· The administration has authorized 17,500 National Guard troops from Gulf Coast states to participate in the response to the BP oil spill.
· More than 24,600 personnel are currently responding to protect the shoreline and wildlife and cleanup vital coastlines.
· More than 4,500 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.
· Approximately 2.2 million feet of containment boom and 2.6 million feet of sorbent boom have been deployed to contain the spill—and approximately 630,000 feet of containment boom and 2.3 million feet of sorbent boom are available.
· Approximately 18.1 million gallons of an oil-water mix have been recovered.
· Approximately 1.16 million gallons of total dispersant have been deployed—800,000 on the surface and 360,000 subsea. More than 500,000 gallons are available.
· More than 165 controlled burns have been conducted, efficiently removing a total of more than 3.85 million gallons of oil from the open water in an effort to protect shoreline and wildlife.
· 17 staging areas are in place and ready to protect sensitive shorelines.
· For specific information about the federal-wide response, visit http://www.whitehouse.gov/deepwater-bp-oil-spill.
· 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 www.epa.gov/bpspill.
· For National Park Service updates about potential park closures, resources at risk, and NPS actions to protect vital park space and wildlife, visit http://www.nps.gov/aboutus/oil-spill-response.htm.
· For Fish and Wildlife Service updates about response along the Gulf Coast and the status of national wildlife refuges, visit http://www.fws.gov/home/dhoilspill/.
· For daily updates on fishing closures, visit http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov.
· 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.
· To file a claim with BP, visit www.bp.com/claims or call BP’s helpline at (800) 440-0858. A BP fact sheet with additional information is available here. 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.
· In addition, www.disasterassistance.gov has been enhanced to provide a one-stop shop for information on how to file a claim with BP and access additional assistance—available in English and Spanish.
For information about the response effort, visit www.deepwaterhorizonresponse.com.