NOAA Underscores Scientific Response to BP Oil Spill

ROBERT, La. – National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Administrator Dr. Jane Lubchenco today highlighted the critical role science has played in the U.S. government’s response to the Deepwater BP oil spill.  From the beginning, the response to this unprecedented event has been based on the best science available in both the public and private sectors, as responders have worked to measure and mitigate the impacts of the oil, monitor air and water conditions and assess any and all impacts to the environment as well as human health.

“From day one sound science was driving this response,” said Administrator Lubchenco. “While we have marshaled all the resources available to fight this unprecedented spill, we have also engaged the full expertise and assets of the best scientific and engineering minds throughout the country—from the federal government, the private sector, academia, and non-governmental organizations—to study impacts and assess response efforts.”

Under the coordination of National Incident Commander for the Deepwater BP oil spill, Admiral Thad Allen – NOAA Administrator Dr. Jane Lubchenco, Department of Energy Secretary Dr. Steven Chu and U.S. Geological Survey Director Dr. Marcia McNutt have brought their expertise and experience to bear throughout this effort.

Secretary Chu has assembled a team of top scientists from academia and the U.S. government, with support from more than 200 personnel from America’s national laboratories, to analyze the response efforts and recommend additional options for stopping the leaking oil—including recommendations that BP use high energy gamma rays to image parts of the internal state of the Blow-Out Preventer (BOP). Additionally, lab personnel have independently analyzed the two-dimensional gamma ray images which are crucial in helping us understand what is happening inside the BOP and informing the approach moving forward.

Recognizing the environmental, legal, and financial importance of providing the public with access to accurate measures of the flow of oil leaking from the BP Deepwater Horizon well, Director McNutt continues to lead the government’s independent review panel—the Flow Rate Technical Group. This team is leading the coordinated effort across the federal government and academia to determine oil flow rates from the spill by collecting and analyzing data, and running state-of-the-art models, as well as conducting an independent peer review of all reports and findings of the modeling team under a contract with an independent organization.

Administrator Lubchenco also highlighted NOAA’s ongoing scientific response to the Deepwater BP oil spill—including the Gordon Gunter’s ongoing acoustic survey of the submerged oil fields, or “plumes,” and the Thomas Jefferson, which is returning to sea today—including the collection of water samples and the net sampling of pelagic species throughout the water column.

The EPA has used its science expertise to ensure protection of public heath and the environment. EPA is aggressively sampling and monitoring the air, water, sediment and underwater use of dispersant every day, and each day EPA posts this monitoring data and its scientific analysis on to ensure the public has access to it. EPA and DHS have also demanded BP post the data it has collected publicly.

For information about the response effort, visit the Deepwater Horizon Unified Command website.

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