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
President Obama Gives an Update on the BP Oil Spill in the Gulf
This morning, the President spoke on the news from the Gulf, emphasizing that while there may be good news, the work is not done containing the leak, and will not be until the relief wells are finished and functioning. He was asked what his message for the people in the region would be:
“Well, I would expect that sometime in the next several weeks I’ll be back down. What we’re trying to do right now is to make sure that the technical folks on the ground are making the best possible decisions to shut this well down as quickly as possible, that we’re standing up the fund so that people are compensated quickly. I’m staying in touch each and every day, monitoring the progress and getting briefed by the scientists.
“The key here right now is for us to make decisions based on science, based on what’s best for the people of the Gulf—not based on PR, not based on politics. And that’s part of the reason why I wanted to speak this morning, because I know that there were a lot of reports coming out in the media that seemed to indicate, well, maybe this thing is done. We won’t be done until we actually know that we’ve killed the well and that we have a permanent solution in place. We’re moving in that direction, but I don’t want us to get too far ahead of ourselves.”
Admiral Allen and Federal Science Team Continue to Monitor Well Integrity Testing
National Incident Commander Admiral Thad Allen released the following statement on the well integrity test:
“Yesterday I sent BP a letter stating that there were a number of unanswered questions about the monitoring systems they committed to as a condition of the US government extending the well integrity test. Last night a conference call between the federal science team and BP representatives was convened to discuss some specific issues, including the detection of a seep near the well and the possible observation of methane over the well. During the conversation, the federal science team got the answers they were seeking and the commitment from BP to meet their monitoring and notification obligations.
“Ongoing monitoring and full analysis of both the seepage and methane will continue in coordination with the science team. I authorized BP to continue the integrity test for another 24 hours and I restated our firm position that this test will only continue if they continue to meet their obligations to rigorously monitor for any signs that this test could worsen the overall situation. At any moment, we have the ability to return to the safe containment of the oil on the surface until the time the relief well is completed and the well is permanently killed.”
Admiral Allen also provided an update on the progress of the well integrity test and response efforts, reiterating the President’s message on the importance of scientific monitoring of pressures in the wellbore and, ultimately, that the relief wells are still needed to kill the well.
Admiral Allen Tells BP to Join Local Response Team in Each State
As part of the federal government’s continued efforts to ensure that additional responsibility for BP oil spill response plans and actions is placed at the state and local levels, Admiral Allen has told BP to ensure that representatives are in place no later than July 20 alongside state and federal commanders in each affected state in order to further expedite projects and response activities to protect shoreline and recover oil.
These BP representatives must have the ability to commit BP resources for response activities. While local coordination is already occurring between federal, state and BP representatives, this will formalize and clarify these roles, and ensure they remain in place for the long term.
“Throughout this unprecedented and evolving event, we have marshaled the largest response in our nation’s history and we have continued to adapt and evolve this response at every turn as the disaster itself has unfolded. Over the past several weeks, control over federal planning and tactical operations in each state has been delegated to the Coast Guard Deputy Incident Commanders, and this authority will be exercised in coordination with their Governor-appointed state counterparts,” said Admiral Allen. “To achieve even more control over this response at the state level, a BP representative must work with the group to ensure that decisions that are made can be carried out quickly and efficiently.”
EPA and White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives Convene Conference Call with Faith Leaders in the Gulf Coast
Senior representatives from the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives and the EPA today hosted a conference call for faith leaders across the Gulf region to provide an update and answer questions on the ongoing response to the BP oil spill.
Progress Continues in Drilling Relief Wells
The drilling of relief wells continues. The Development Driller III resumed drilling operations, which were temporarily put on hold in order to avoid interference with the well integrity test, and has drilled the first relief well to a depth of 17,864 feet below the Gulf surface. The Development Driller II has drilled the second relief well—a redundancy measure taken at the direction of the administration—to a depth of more than 15,960 feet below the surface.
Personnel Continue Wildlife Rescue and Recovery Missions Across the Region
From the Houma, La., Incident Command Post, a total of 292 personnel, 83 vessels and four helicopters participated in reconnaissance and wildlife rescue and recovery missions. From the Mobile, Ala., Incident Command Post, 39 two-person teams, 24 support personnel and 11 vessels responded. These missions were conducted in response to calls received on the Wildlife Hotline to report of oiled and injured wildlife. To report oiled wildlife, call (866) 557-1401.
Approved SBA Economic Injury Assistance Loans Surpass $14.8 Million
SBA has approved 176 economic injury assistance loans to date, totaling more than $14.8 million for small businesses in the Gulf Coast impacted by the BP oil spill. Additionally, the agency has granted deferments on 671 existing SBA disaster loans in the region, totaling more than $3.5 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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, 116,644 claims have been opened, from which more than $206.8 million have been disbursed. No claims have been denied to date. There are 1,114 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, 1,652 are active.
· Approximately 40,000 personnel are currently responding to protect the shoreline and wildlife and cleanup vital coastlines.
· Nearly 6,400 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 3.43 million feet of containment boom and 7.36 million feet of sorbent boom have been deployed to contain the spill—and approximately 764,000 feet of containment boom and 3.18 million feet of sorbent boom are available.
· More than 34.5 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 575,000 gallons are available.
· 409 controlled burns have been conducted, efficiently removing a total of more than 11 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 622 miles of Gulf Coast shoreline is currently oiled—approximately 355 miles in Louisiana, 111 miles in Mississippi, 69 miles in Alabama, and 87 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 83,927 square miles of Gulf of Mexico federal waters remain closed to fishing in order to balance economic and public health concerns. More than 65 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.
· For information about the response effort, visit www.RestoreTheGulf.gov.
· 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 (713) 323-1670.
· 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.
· 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 email@example.com.
· 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.
· Any members of the press who encounter response personnel restricting their access or violating the media access policy set forth by Admiral Allen should contact the Joint Information Center. Click here for more information, including a list of regular embed opportunities.