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Oil spill: Update on the government response

By Ed O'Keefe


It's Day 13 of the coordinated public-private Deepwater Horizon Response with no immediate end in sight.

"Worst-case scenario: This thing could keep going on for 90 days," Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said during one of four Sunday talk show appearances.

President Obama visited the region on Sunday and Salazar and Homeland Security Janet Napolitano spoke Sunday with the governors of Alabama, Florida, Mississippi and Louisiana.

Nearly 2,000 people are responding to the oil spill -- a mix of BP officials, locals and state and federal officials. They're using more than 100 vessels, including skimmers, tugs and barges, along with dozens of aircraft, vehicles and offshore drilling units.

Officials have established seven staging areas in Biloxi, Miss., Pensacola, Fla., Venice, La., Pascagoula, Miss., Theodore, Ala., Port Fourchon, La., and Port Sulphur, La.

Agency-by-agency updates below, which will update as necessary:

KEY LINKS:
DeepwaterHorizonResponse.com, the official response Web site updates frequently with photos, phone numbers and press releases.

• Follow @Oil_Spill_2010, @usnoaagov, @uscoastguard, @EPAgov, @lisapjackson, @USInteriorNews, among others, for updates.

COAST GUARD:
It's leading the government's efforts to control the oil spill, partnering with BP, local folks and the Defense Department.

Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen is serving as National Incident Commander, the federal official in charge of this "incident of national significance." That essentially means he's the federal official with the final say on matters and President Obama's point man on the ground.

DEFENSE DEPARTMENT:
Defense Secretary Robert Gates mobilized the Louisiana National Guard over the weekend (making use of Title 32) and the Pentagon said BP will pay for the costs of deployment.

The Navy is providing a variety of oil pollution control equipment to the Coast Guard (which is part of the Homeland Security Department) and has sent thousands of feet of inflatable oil boom with mooring equipment, several skimming systems, related support gear, and personnel to support oil spill response efforts. The Coast Guard is using Naval Air Station Pensacola as a staging facility for contractor equipment.

EPA:
The agency's first air quality tests in the region yielded no red flags. There's a a dedicated response Web site with data from the air tests.

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson remains in the region and met over the weekend with locals, reminding them of her New Orleans roots.

MINERALS MANAGEMENT SERVICE:
The agency remains in touch with oil and gas operators in the region. Officials report that two platforms have stopped production and one was evacuated as a safety precaution. Less than one-tenth of a percent of daily gas production in the Gulf of Mexico has been impacted by those stoppages.

NOAA:
On Sunday the NOAA Fisheries Service decided to restrict fishing for at least 10 days in the immediate oil spill region.

"Balancing economic and health concerns, this order closes just those areas that are affected by oil. There should be no health risk in seafood currently in the marketplace," said NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco.

There are 3.2 million recreational fishermen in the Gulf of Mexico who took 24 million fishing trips in 2008, according to NOAA. Commercial fishermen harvested more than 1 billion pounds of finfish and shellfish in 2008.

Agency spill specialists are providing coordinated scientific weather and biological response services And continue to advise officials on areas and animals likely most at risk.

RELATED: Issa launches probe into oil spill

Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

By Ed O'Keefe  | May 3, 2010; 10:10 AM ET
Categories:  Administration  
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Comments

this week or today, every agency should ask for volunteers to go to the Gulf, it may not be a panacea but they don't know what to do, watch NOAA staff meeting online, they're talking about whales.

Posted by: rufkd | May 3, 2010 10:42 AM | Report abuse

well - and this was just released...

BP will pay for all clean-up efforts including property damage.

Isn't that special!!!!

What about the turtles? Gonna pay for ALL the wildlife BP?

Posted by: TheBabeNemo | May 3, 2010 10:42 AM | Report abuse

Wildlife and people making a living on the coast will suffer terribly. I'm not so worried about the greedy oil barons losing some money.

Posted by: Vickie803 | May 3, 2010 12:17 PM | Report abuse

Lets get giant vacuums down there with fleet of empty tanker ships waiting to take on gallons!

Posted by: joalem | May 3, 2010 12:42 PM | Report abuse

Everyones concern regarding the oil spill is justified........
BUT..
all along the gulf of mexico, we are now loosing our jobs.... While you guys are complaining about the cost of gas and the cost of seafood and all the animals thats going to die, consider this.........you will be able to turn your lights on next week or next month.
many of us here live from pay day to pay day and now our paydays are gone........
Who is going to give us work so we can turn our lights on??? I havent heard one word from washington about what is going to happen to us. We are nnot big companies. we are the little people who no longer have work for them big companies.
WE gave to Haiti, We gave to China and we have given to all the other countries who have had desasters......who is going to help us down here on the gulf coast?????

Posted by: tropicalbreeze1998 | May 3, 2010 12:42 PM | Report abuse

Hey Palin how's that drill baby drill working out for ya you betcha ya

Posted by: lildg54 | May 3, 2010 1:21 PM | Report abuse

Hey Palin how's that drill baby drill working out for ya you betcha ya

Posted by: lildg54 | May 3, 2010 1:22 PM | Report abuse

As a New Orleans resident of 20+ years, I find it a bit funny how so many of Louisiana Republicans spend their lives telling the feds to STAY OUT and LET US RUN OUR LIVES yet they can't go 1 hour without blaming the Feds for just about everything in this incident. Does the state want the Feds full help or not? If so, admit you all are hypocrites.

Posted by: Bious | May 3, 2010 7:41 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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