Monday, August 16, 2010

Day 117 BP Oil Spill: "Turning The Corner In the Gulf"

Aug 16: In a blog posting on the White House website, Carol Browner the Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change, provided an update on the progress the Administration has made in responding to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and said, "we're beginning to turn the corner in the Gulf." Browner also announce a live chat with Dr. Jane Lubchenco, Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), about the safety of seafood from the region. The chat was scheduled to begin at 2 PM EDT today.

    Browner said, "I'm pleased to report that no oil has leaked into the Gulf of Mexico since July 15, and because of the progress we've made capping the well, we don't anticipate that any additional oil will spill into the Gulf. We also have new information about the effectiveness of the Federal Government's response to the spill: Recently, government scientists released a report stating that the vast majority of the oil that spilled into the Gulf has evaporated, skimmed, burned off, been recovered from the wellhead or dispersed [See WIMS 8/4/10].
   "Over the weekend, President Obama and the First Lady travelled to Panama City, Florida and met with small business owners to discuss the impact the oil spill has had on their businesses. While we're beginning to turn the corner, it's clear that we still have a lot of work to do for the individuals, families and businesses in the region that have been impacted by this spill. We will hold BP accountable for the damage this spill has caused to the environment and the economy. We will not rest until the delicate ecosystems along the Gulf Coast and the people who call this region home have been made whole.
    "The men and women of the Gulf who make their livelihood harvesting fish, shrimp and oysters have been among those hardest hit by this spill. And I know many of you may have questions about the safety of seafood from the Gulf of Mexico. The Federal Government is paying close attention to the safety of seafood in the Gulf. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and NOAA, working closely with the states, are closely monitoring and testing the Gulf waters so they can be reopened as soon as they become safe. Seafood from these open areas is safe for you and your family to eat. In fact, if you're looking for a simple way to support the people of the Gulf who have been battered by this spill, enjoying some local seafood is one of the best things you can do."
    In a follow-up to last week's report that the static kill (from the top) may have permanently closed the well, Thad Allen, National Incident Commander (NIC) said in a briefing on Saturday, ". . .we have advised BP and I will be issuing a directive that will tell them to proceed with the relief well in the bottom kill, if you will. Prior to that, though, I will issue an order to BP this afternoon.  I've already communicated with their senior leadership, that required them to do some tests ahead of the time so we can make sure that we've accounted for any potential risk associated with the bottom kill. We're going to continue the -- what we call the near ambient pressure test, that is testing the pressure currently in the blowout preventer and the capping stack and we're going to continue to take pressure readings off of that.  We've also asked BP to provide us an analysis of the risks associated with the annulus and any risk associated that might cause communication between the reservoir and the annulus."
    Allen said, "Right now, the drill bit is at 3-1/2 feet away from the Macondo well and about 50 feet above the intercept point and they will be ready to go as soon as we give the order. In the meantime, we're going to conduct this ambient pressure test and analysis of the stability of the well to make sure that as we move forward we know exactly what we can expect and we have the best conversation we can have between the federal science team and the BP engineers. . . I would advise everybody, we're still dealing with part of the well that we can't see and only know from pressure readings and external indications what the condition is and we will not know until we actually intercept the well.
    Also, today (August 16), BP announced that it is providing $52 million to Federal and state health organizations to fund behavioral health support and outreach programs across the US Gulf Coast region. Specifically, BP is providing funding to five agencies, one at the federal level and one in each of the affected states. The funding is designed to help residents link up with support that is available through providers in their communities, through a variety of local outreach programs and a special toll free phone line where people can turn for information on available services. Lamar McKay, President of BP America and incoming leader of the Gulf Coast Restoration Organization said, "We appreciate that there is a great deal of stress and anxiety across the region and as part of our determination to make things right for the people of the region, we are providing this assistance now to help make sure individuals who need help know where to turn." 
    Additionally, NIC Allen announced the deployment of 19 additional Economic Assessment and Evaluation Teams to communities affected by the oil spill. The interagency teams will work with communities in Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, and Texas to help them orient to their economic situation, develop action steps, and will offer guidance geared towards spearheading post-event economic recovery efforts. Brian McGowan, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development, who is coordinating the interagency National Incident Command Economic Solutions Team said, "Communities along the Gulf Coast are facing difficult and uncertain economic times. The Obama administration is committed to helping the region regain its economic footing and these assessments are one important step in the process to get local residents and the economy working again. This effort will help ensure a collaborative recovery process that targets resources and optimizes economic recovery efforts." Two pilot teams have already been deployed to communities in Louisiana, for a total of 21 teams.
    Access the White House blog for the Carol Browner posting (click here, posted soon). Access a lengthy speech from the President delivered in Panama City, FL (click here). Access links to the NOAA chat (click here). Access the full text of the NIC press briefing from Saturday (click here). Access the NIC order to BP (click here). Access a release from BP with further details on the $52 million funding (click here). Access an NIC release on the Evaluation Teams (click here).

No comments: