Skip NavigationAn Official Website of the United States Government

The ongoing administration-wide response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill

UPDATED May 2, 2010 5 PM

In the Past 24 Hours:

  • President Obama visited the Gulf Coast to inspect response operations firsthand, underscoring the administration’s all-hands-on-deck response to protect the coastline of the Gulf states. He was accompanied by Assistant to the President for Homeland Security John Brennan and Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change Policy Carol Browner.
  • NOAA is restricting fishing for a minimum of ten days in federal waters most affected by the BP oil spill, largely between Louisiana state waters at the mouth of the Mississippi River to waters off Florida’s Pensacola Bay.The closure is effective immediately.This order balances economic and health concerns and only closes those areas affected by oil. Details can be found here.
  • BP is now accepting claims for the Gulf Coast oil spill. Please call BP’s helpline at 1-800-440-0858. For those who have already pursued the BP claims process and are not satisfied with BP’s resolution, can call the Coast Guard at 1-800-280-7118.More information about what types of damages are eligible for compensation under the Oil Pollution Act as well as guidance on procedures to seek that compensation can be found here.
  • Secretaries Janet Napolitano and Ken Salazar spoke by conference call to Governors Haley Barbour (MS), Bob Riley (AL), Rick Perry (TX), Charlie Crist (FL) and the Deputy Chief of Staff to Gov. Bobby Jindal (LA). Gov. Jindal was with President Obama. They briefed the Governors on the ongoing response to the BP oil spill in the gulf. They spoke specifically about efforts to stop the oil leaks and mitigating the oils impact on the shorelines of their states. Additionally, they spoke about ways to enhance what has been strong cooperation between the federal government and the states. The Secretaries and Governors agreed to speak again on May 4.
  • Response crews continue to test a new technique to break up the oil before it reaches the surface—a remotely operated underwater vehicle dispensing sub-surface dispersant at a rate of nine gallons per minute. BP and NOAA are evaluating the results of the test procedure to determine its feasibility for continued use.
  • EPA last night posted on its dedicated response website the first air monitoring data its collected in the area—with no red flags at this time.
  • BP has indicated it will reimburse volunteers at the rate of $10 per hour. Contractors are also hiring people to support shoreline clean up. Contractor rates go as high as $18 per hour for supervisors.

By the Numbers to Date:

  • Personnel were quickly deployed and nearly 2,000 are currently responding to protect the shoreline and wildlife.
  • More than 100 vessels are responding on site, including skimmers, tugs, barges, and recovery vessels to assist in containment and cleanup efforts—in addition to dozens of aircraft, remotely operated vehicles, and multiple mobile offshore drilling units.
  • Hundreds of thousands of feet of boom (barrier) have been deployed to contain the spill—more than 500,000 feet is available.
  • More than 1 million gallons of an oil-water mix have been recovered.
  • More than 156,000 gallons of dispersant have been deployed—an increase of more than 13,000 gallons since yesterday. An additional 75,000 gallons are available.
  • Seven staging areas (Biloxi, Miss., Pensacola, Fla., Venice, La., Pascagoula, Miss. and Theodore, Ala., Port Fourchon, La., and Port Sulphur, La.) were set up to protect sensitive shorelines.
  • 2,000 volunteers have been trained to assist in the response effort to date—an increase of 1,400 since yesterday.

Coordinated Interagency Asset Deployment and Response:

  • The Department of Defense is fully integrated into the DHS-led team and fully supportive of all response activities. The Coast Guard and Department of Defense continue to work closely together, anticipating requirements, identifying response options, and rapidly providing response support.
  • The Minerals Management Service remains in contact with all oil and gas operators in the sheen area. Two platforms have stopped production and one has been evacuated as a safety measure. Approximately 6.2 million cubic feet of natural gas is shut-in—less than one-tenth of a percent of daily gas production in the Gulf of Mexico.
  • As the nation’s leading scientific resource for oil spills, NOAA has been on the scene of the BP spill from the start, providing coordinated scientific weather and biological response services to federal, state and local organizations. NOAA spill specialists are advising the U.S. Coast Guard on cleanup options as well as advising all affected federal, state and local partners on sensitive marine resources at risk in this area of the Gulf of Mexico.
  • Two Modular Aerial Spray System (MASS) aircraft flew from Stennis International Airport in Mississippi in support of the incident in the Gulf of Mexico. Both aircraft have multiple missions scheduled daily moving forward. These aircraft can dispense the same dispersant chemical being used by BP and the federal responders. Each system is capable of covering up to 250 acres per flight with three flights per aircraft per day.
  • A C-17 aircraft carrying pollution response boom components for support flew from Travis AFB in California and has arrived at Mobile International Airport.
  • In direct support of the Coast Guard under an existing pollution clean-up and salvage operations agreement, the Navy is providing a variety of oil pollution control equipment. The Navy 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. Naval Air Station Pensacola is serving as a staging facility for Coast Guard contractor-provided equipment.
  • In response to the BP oil spill, the Secretary of Defense has authorized under Title 32 the mobilization of the Louisiana National Guard to help in the ongoing efforts to assist local communities in the cleanup and removal of oil and to protect critical habitats from contamination. As the responsible party in this incident, the government will hold BP accountable for the costs of the deployment.

Spill of National Significance & National Incident Commander:

  • Secretary Napolitano announced that this incident is a Spill of National Significance on April 29, the Department of Interior has announced that they will be sending SWAT teams to the Gulf to inspect all platforms and rigs, and the EPA is conducting air monitoring activities to gather information on the impact of the controlled burn on air quality.
  • As part of the designation of the BP Oil Spill as a Spill of National Significance, Secretary Napolitano announced that U.S. Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Thad Allen will serve as the National Incident Commander on May 1 for the administrations continued, coordinated response—providing additional authority and oversight in leveraging every available resource to respond to the BP oil spill and minimize the associated environmental risks.
  • As National Incident Commander, Admiral Allen will continue to work closely with Coast Guard Rear Admiral Mary Landry, the federal on-scene coordinator, and the Departments of Homeland Security, Defense, Interior and Commerce, the Environmental Protection Agency and other federal departments and agencies as appropriate—as well as BP, the responsible party in the spill—to ensure the efficient continued deployment and coordination of vital response assets, personnel and equipment that were activated immediately after the spill began.

Joint DHS-DOI Investigation:

  • Early on, the President directed responding agencies to not only devote every resource to respond to this incident but to also determine its cause.
  • Secretary Napolitano and Secretary Salazar signed an order establishing the next steps for a joint investigation that is currently underway into the causes of the explosion of the drilling rig Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico. The U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) and the Minerals Management Service (MMS) share jurisdiction for the investigation.
  • The joint investigation, which began on April 21, will have the power to issue subpoenas, hold public hearings, call witnesses, and take other steps that may be needed to determine the cause of the incident. It is proceeding under a Joint Statement of Principles and Convening Order, which convenes the formal joint investigation, and a Memorandum of Agreement, which lays out roles and responsibilities that relate to each agency’s area of expertise.

Fishing Restrictions

  • NOAA is restricting fishing for a minimum of ten days in federal waters most affected by the BP oil spill, largely between Louisiana state waters at the mouth of the Mississippi River to waters off Florida’s Pensacola Bay.The closure is effective immediately.This order balances economic and health concerns and only closes those areas affected by oil. Details can be found here.
  • Statement from Harlon Pearce, Chairman, Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board: “The precautionary closure of the federal waters off the coast of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and part of Florida is a necessary action to insure the citizens of the United States and abroad that our seafood will maintain the highest level of quality we expect from the Gulf of Mexico. As chairman of the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board, I applaud Dr. Lubchenco’s decision to insure everyone that all seafood in the Gulf is of the highest quality and is safe to eat.”
  • Statement from Ewell Smith, Executive Director, Louisiana Seafood Board: “We Support NOAA’s precautionary closure of the affected area so that the American consumer has confidence that the seafood they eat is safe. It is also very important to underscore the fact that this closure is only the affected area of the Gulf of Mexico, not the entire Gulf. The state waters of Louisiana West of the Mississippi River are still open and the seafood coming from that area is safe. That portion of waters represents about 77% of Louisiana seafood production of a 2.4 billion dollar economic impact to the state.”

Response Actions:

  • The response to the BP Oil Spill began as an emergency search and rescue mission by the U.S. Coast Guard, the Navy and other partners on April 20.
  • The President immediately began actively monitoring the incident. The President has been in contact with all the governors of the states that may be affected and ordered that the administration use every single available resource at our disposal.
  • Concurrently, command center operations were stood up immediately in the Gulf Coast to begin also addressing the environmental impact of the incident and coordinate with all state and local governments.
  • The morning after the explosion, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar deployed Deputy Secretary David J. Hayes down to the gulf to assist with coordination and response to the incident.
  • When the drill unit sank, the Administration immediately and intensely investigated by remotely operated vehicles the entire 5,000 feet of pipe that’s on the floor of the ocean. In that process three leaks were identified, the most recent coming on the evening of April 28.
  • The Administration immediately began holding regular calls with BP leadership and numerous senior-level meetings have been held between the administration and BP to discuss BPs response effort and federal oversight and support.
  • The National Response Team (NRT), an organization of 16 federal departments and agencies responsible for coordinating emergency preparedness and response to oil and hazardous substance pollution incidents was quickly activated and a coordinated group of federal partners-including the United States Coast Guard, Departments of Homeland Security, Commerce, Interior and the Environmental Protection Agency-immediately began directing and overseeing BPs response.
  • The President dispatched Secretary Napolitano, Secretary Salazar, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change Policy Carol Browner and NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco to the Gulf Coast to ensure all is being done to respond to this oil spill.
  • EPA posted on its dedicated response website the first air monitoring data its collected in the area—with no red flags at this time.
  • President Obama visited the Gulf Coast to inspect response operations firsthand, underscoring the administration’s all-hands-on-deck response to protect the coastline of the Gulf states. He was accompanied by Assistant to the President for Homeland Security John Brennan and Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change Policy Carol Browner.
  • NOAA is restricting fishing for a minimum of ten days in federal waters most affected by the BP oil spill, largely between Louisiana state waters at the mouth of the Mississippi River to waters off Florida’s Pensacola Bay.The closure is effective immediately.This order balances economic and health concerns and only closes those areas affected by oil. Details can be found here.
  • BP is now accepting claims for the Gulf Coast oil spill. Please call BP’s helpline at 1-800-440-0858. For those who have already pursued the BP claims process and are not satisfied with BP’s resolution, can call the Coast Guard at 1-800-280-7118.More information about what types of damages are eligible for compensation under the Oil Pollution Act as well as guidance on procedures to seek that compensation can be found here.
  • Secretaries Janet Napolitano and Ken Salazar spoke by conference call to Governors Haley Barbour (MS), Bob Riley (AL), Rick Perry (TX), Charlie Crist (FL) and the Deputy Chief of Staff to Gov. Bobby Jindal (LA). Gov. Jindal was with President Obama. They briefed the Governors on the ongoing response to the BP oil spill in the gulf. They spoke specifically about efforts to stop the oil leaks and mitigating the oils impact on the shorelines of their states. Additionally, they spoke about ways to enhance what has been strong cooperation between the federal government and the states. The Secretaries and Governors agreed to speak again on May 4.
  • Response crews continue to test a new technique to break up the oil before it reaches the surface—a remotely operated underwater vehicle dispensing sub-surface dispersant at a rate of nine gallons per minute. BP and NOAA are evaluating the results of the test procedure to determine its feasibility for continued use.
  • BP has indicated it will reimburse volunteers at the rate of $10 per hour. Contractors are also hiring people to support shoreline clean up. Contractor rates go as high as $18 per hour for supervisors.