NEW ORLEANS – The response to BP/Transocean’s Deepwater Horizon incident continues as responders have scheduled a controlled, on-location burn to begin at approximately 11 a.m. CDT today—a strategy designed to minimize environmental risks by removing large quantities of oil in the Gulf of Mexico following the April 20 explosion.
Part of a coordinated response combining tactics deployed above water, below water, dozens of miles offshore, as well as closer to coastal areas, today’s controlled burn will remove oil from the open water in an effort to protect shoreline and marine and other wildlife.
Workboats will consolidate oil into a fire resistant boom approximately 500 feet long. This oil will then be towed to a more remote area, where it will be ignited and burned in a controlled manner. The plan calls for small, controlled burns of several thousand gallons of oil lasting approximately one hour each.
No populated areas are expected to be affected by the controlled burn operations and there are no anticipated impacts to marine mammals and sea turtles. In order to ensure safety, the Environmental Protection Agency will continuously monitor air quality and burning will be halted if safety standards cannot be maintained.
The Minerals Management Service is in contact with the oil and gas operators in the sheen area to discuss any concerns with operations that may arise from their activities with the response efforts underway. Currently, no production has been curtailed as a result of the response activities.
The vast majority of this slick will be addressed through natural means and through use of chemical dispersants. Today’s burn will not affect other ongoing response activities, such as on-water skimming, dispersant application, and subsurface wellhead intervention operations. Preparations are also underway in Louisiana, Mississippi, Florida and Alabama to set up a protective boom to minimize shoreline impact.
These efforts are happening concurrently with BP/Transocean’s continued efforts to stop the crude that is still leaking from the well. BP is the responsible party due to the fact that they own the oil that was leaking from their well.
Emphasizing the importance of continued vigilance and interagency coordination in the response to BP/Transocean’s Deepwater Horizon incident in the Gulf of Mexico, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano and Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar yesterday announced the next steps for the investigation that is underway to determine the causes of the explosion, which left 11 workers missing, three critically injured, and an ongoing oil spill that the responsible party and federal agencies are working to contain and clean up.
Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change Carol Browner, White House Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett, Secretary Napolitano, U.S. Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Thad Allen, Secretary Salazar and DOI Deputy Secretary David Hayes also held meetings yesterday with BP, the responsible party in the oil spill, to discuss the response effort.
A coordinated response continues by federal, state and local partners while BP and other contractors work to stop the flow of oil and minimize its environmental impact. Approximately 1,100 total personnel are currently deployed and have used approximately 56,000 gallons of oil dispersant so far. Approximately 260,000 gallons of oily water have been collected. Nearly 50 vessels—including 16 skimming boats, four storage barges, 11 support vessels—and multiple aircraft are conducting containment and cleanup operations in the area.