04.30.2010

Another teleconference was held, in which I participated in, with Governor Jindel of Louisiana, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Interior, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), British Petroleum (BP) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

BP has stated that their recovery options are not as productive as initially hoped and have asked the Federal Government for assistance. The Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC) has been implemented to provide form and structure to Federal aid given to manage the spreading oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico.

President Obama has stated that he would employ “every resource available to help contain the spill.” In addition to the Coast Guard, the Navy and the Department of Defense- the Federal Government is deploying 6000 National Guards for at least 90 days of military duty to assist with clean up efforts in the forms of security, engineering and communications support.o

A recent flyover showed areas where oily water was lapping over the boom set out to contain the spill.  In addition, the rough weather in the Gulf broke a portion of the boom and washed onto an area beach while other booms have appeared to have sunk. Surface skimming and controlled burnings were being conducted; however, these methods are put on hold until the turbulent weather in the Gulf of Mexico subsides. Even then, efforts could take anywhere from 2 weeks to 3 months.  As of June 1st, hurricane season starts and could complicate efforts even further.

As of date, 139,459 gallons of dispersant have been put forth in an effort to break up the oil before it rises to the surface and additional 51,000 gallons are available.  2  C130s have been released this afternoon in an attempt to spray the dispersant from the air but with the whipping winds, it it uncertain how much of it will make contact with the Gulf.

To date, the oil spill response team has recovered 20,313 barrels (853,146 gallons) of an oil-water mix. Vessels are in place and continuing recovery operations.

Additionally, 220,000 booms have been set forth to protect the coastlines in addition to 853,000 barrel of oils have been collected thus far. However it has been said that some of the oil is washing over the boons due to the incremental worsening weather in the Gulf.  The heavy winds are causing the oil to whip into a “chocolate frost” which hampers clean up efforts.

Five staging areas are in place and ready to protect sensitive shorelines. These areas include: Pensacola, Florida., Theodore, Alabama., Biloxi, Mississippi., Pascagoula, Mississippi., Venice, Louisiana. A sixth staging area is being set up in Port Sulphur, Louisiana.

SouthEast Louisiana (including New Orleans) has reported an odor from the contained burnings and the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency)  has collected air samples from the past couple days as well as started collecting water samples today.

Many fish spawn in the Gulf including Atlantic blue fin tuna could be affected. The Atlantic blue fin tuna larvae are very sensitive and the spill could affect their populations. Also snapper and grouper, commercially important, could be affected.

In addition, there are also 4 species of sea turtles in the Gulf  which are endangered or threatened. They can be exposed to oil when they come up to breath by swallowing oil or getting coated oil.  This can interfere with their digestion, respiration, and a variety of other functions.  Bird life on the Gulf are especially vulnerable as the oil coating can cause hypothermia.

Today, Louisiana’s Governor Bobby Jindal sent the following letter to U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Gary Locke requesting the declaration of a commercial fisheries failure as well as support from the Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration for commercial and recreational fishing businesses. This declaration will provide financial assistance to individual fishermen, assistance for the restoration of fisheries and assistance for commercial and recreational fishing businesses.

The Governor also sent a letter to U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Administrator Karen Mills requesting the activation of all appropriate federal disaster declaration clauses that would enable the SBA to assist the small businesses in the state that will be impacted by the oil spill.

Specifically, the Governor requested that the SBA consider temporarily suspending loan repayments for coastal businesses that are impacted by the oil spill and also those who have 2005 and 2008 SBA disaster and economic injury loans as a result of Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Ike and Gustav.

Several aspects of Louisiana will be closed down to brace for impact. The lower side of  Breton Sound, LA was closed early this morning with the upper side of Breton Sound, LA is expected to close at 6pm CDT. In East Mississippi, the oysters bed will close at sundown tonight.

The current cause of concern are the six coastal marshes: Terrebonne, Lafourche, Jefferson, St. Mary, St. Bernard and Plaquemines. St. Charles Parish and St. Bernard Parish are the top two areas of  primary concern for an adverse impact of this spill would pollute the marsh wetlands where forceful clean actions could produce fatal results to the fragile ecosystem.

Several tribal council members are expected to meet with Lisa Jackson of the EPA Saturday morning at 8 a.m. in the New Orleans area to discuss the disaster and its possible ramifications.

The Department of Wildlife and Fisheries declared an early start to shrimping season Thursday to help shrimpers get as many hauls as possible before the oil leakage wrecked havoc on the fishing industry.

The Interior Department’s Minerals Management Service (MMS), the agency charged with managing energy and minerals resources on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS), is hosting two public scoping meetings in Norfolk, VA to solicit comments on the scope of a Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) for Future Geological and Geophysical Exploration (G&G) on the Mid and South Atlantic OCS.

Both meetings will take place Thursday, April 29, 2010, the first beginning at 1 p.m. and the second beginning at 7 p.m. The meetings will be held at the Hilton Norfolk Airport, 1500 North Military Highway, Norfolk, VA 23502-1813.

The public meetings are part of a scoping process through which other Federal, State, and local governments as well as any interested parties have the opportunity to assist MMS in determining the significant issues and alternatives for analysis and rescue implementation. Other meeting locations include Newark, NJ, Wilmington, NC, Charleston, SC, Jacksonville,  FL, Savannah, GA, and Houston, TX.  The Minerals Management Service is also conducting a separate investigation as to the cause of the leak and the accountability of the vested corporations.

It is suggested that the initial cause of the blowout valve is not known however, it may have been related to the cementing or that the casing collapsed during a negative pressure test. In addition to TransOcean and BP,  Haliburton is responsible for the set up of the sunken oil rig and is being investigated as well on behalf of negligence.

Ian MacDonald, professor of oceanography at Florida State University who specializes in tracking ocean oil seeps from satellite imagery, said there may already be more than 9 million gallons of oil floating in the Gulf now, and he estimates  a 25,000 barrel-a-day leak rate as opposed to the 5000 barrel a day estimate that was given yesterday.

Interior Department officials said it may take 90 days to cap the leaking well. If the 25,000 barrels a day is accurate and it leaks for 90 days, that’s 2.25 million barrels or 94.5 million gallons being leaked into the Gulf.

When BP President, Doug Suttles was presented with this scenario and asked if he stood firm on his 5ooo barrels per day (bpd) estimate, a silence filled the room as Suttles stuttered  that the current estimate of 5.000 barrels per day is “highly imprecise”.

Basing their calculations on government data and standard industry measurement tools, the experts said the Gulf spill may already rival the historic 1969 Santa Barbara, Calif., and 1989 Exxon Valdez disasters.

In addition, America’s First Offshore Wind Project on the OCS was put into motion. Interior Secretary, Ken Salazar, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, Interior Deputy Secretary David Hayes and Mineral Management Service Director Liz Birnbaum announced the Cape Wind energy project.

The Cape Wind project would be the first wind farm on the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf, generating enough power to meet 75 percent of the electricity demand for Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket Island combined.

Additionally, clean energy options create “3 times more jobs than traditional fossil fuels and offer us an opportunity to build a new manufacturing base, and be exporters rather than energy importers. It’s clean, helps solve climate change, and most of all, can not spill.”  (Oceana).

Governor Charlie Crist of Florida has struck a preemptive stance earlier today and declared a State of Emergency in anticipation of the 600 mile oil slick which could possibly affect Florida’s panhandle and advised all coastal communities to remain on high alert.

Copyright © 2010 ClearWater Perspective.  All rights reserved.

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If you live East of Mobile, AL and are looking to volunteer or seeking additional information please email Denise @ Anahataetal@hotmail.com for a coordinated response effort.

If you live west of Mobile, AL and are looking to volunteer, please 1-866-448-5816 for local clean up information.

To report oiled wildlife, please call 1-866-557-1401.  Messages will be checked hourly.

To discuss spill related damage, please call 1-800-440-0858.

Sources:

http://www.gomr.mms.gov/homepg/whatsnew/newsreal/2010/100422.pdf

http://www.nola.com/news/index.ssf/2010/04/gulf_of_mexico_oil_slick_washi.html

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/discussion/2010/04/30/DI2010043001390.html

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