Unified Command Managing Response to Gulf Oil release

NEW ORLEANS — Response and recovery activities continue in the Gulf of Mexico following the July 25, 2009 initial release of approximately 63,000 gallons of oil from the Eugene Island Pipeline System, 33 miles offshore and 60 miles southwest of Houma, La.

The release-point of crude oil was located by divers who found a crack in the system’s 20-inch pipeline at a depth of about 60 feet. A repair plan is being developed.

A nine-mile sheen with several streamers of darker oil remains from the original spill. As a precautionary measure, a shoreline assessment team has been activated and other on-shore resources are on standby.

The response is being managed by a Unified Command consisting of members from Shell, U.S. Coast Guard and Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality, with support from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Shell’s Incident Commander, Tommy Hutto, indicated that Shell is working diligently with the other members of the Unified Command to quickly contain and clean up the spill. “Our main priorities are the safety of the responders and public, as well as the protection of the environment.”

“All of the involved parties including federal, state and private organizations are working very closely to quickly clean up the oil and minimize the effects of this spill,” said Coast Guard Capt. Joseph Paradis, federal on-scene commander for the Unified Command. “This is a testament to the strong working relationship that federal, state, and private organizations have to respond to oil spills and other emergencies along Louisiana’s waterways and coastline.”

Helicopter flyovers are conducted regularly to monitor the impacted area and direct on-water resources.

Multiple Oil Spill Response vessels are on-scene for oil-water recovery.

Aircraft flights of pre-approved chemical dispersant onto the darker streamers have successfully mitigated much of the threat.

The Eugene Island Pipeline system will be restarted following repairs and a thorough inspection. Top priorities during the response and restart phases are safety and the environment.

Shell Pipeline Company LP is the pipeline operator and has an ownership interest along with Mobil Eugene Island Pipeline Company, ExxonMobil Pipeline Company, Marathon Offshore Pipeline Company LLC, Chevron Pipeline Company, and Conoco Offshore Pipeline Company.

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