Unified command continues to respond to Deepwater Horizon

NEW ORLEANS – The unified command for the Deepwater Horizon Explosion Response announced Saturday that the Mobile Offshore Drilling Unit was located capsized on the sea floor approximately 1500 feet northwest of the well site. Remotely Operated Vehicles located two places where oil is leaking from the well pipe and estimates indicate that up to 1,000 barrels of oil a day could be leaking into the water approximately 5,000 feet below the surface.

The unified command, consisting of the Coast Guard and Mineral Management Service, in collaboration with BP, the responsible party, are working round the clock to determine options to contain and secure the spill.

During an overflight this morning, a 20-mile by 20-mile rainbow sheen with areas of emulsified crude was located approximately 40 miles offshore. Although there is currently no shoreline impact, Gulf Coast states have been notified and invited to participate in the Area Command Center located in Robert, La. On-water recovery efforts were hampered by thunderstorms, rain and rough seas in the area today. However, onshore planning and staging efforts continue unabated and recovery efforts will continue when weather conditions improve. One-thousand-nine-hundred gallons of dispersant were applied Friday and 33,726 gallons of oily-water mix have been recovered by surface skimmers.

“Our response plan is focused on quickly securing the source of the subsurface oil emanating from the well, clean the oil on the surface of the water, and keeping the response well offshore,” said Rear Adm. Mary Landry, Incident Commander and Federal On Scene Coordinator.

It is too early to know the cause of this incident but a collaborative investigation by the Coast Guard and Minerals Management Service is in progress.

BP, the responsible party, is required to fund the cost of the response and cleanup operations. The Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund, established after the Exxon Valdez incident, is also available to fund cleanups, if needed.

The Coast Guard search and rescue operation was suspended Friday at 7 p.m. (CST). During the search, rescue personnel conducted 28 sorties and covered more than 5,000 square miles.

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