Gulf Coast Incident Management Team concludes Louisiana anchor retrieval program
NEW ORLEANS — The Gulf Coast Incident Management Team for the Deepwater Horizon BP oil spill, in coordination and consultation with the state of Louisiana, local partners, and other federal agencies, announced Friday that it has concluded its assessment of anchors remaining in Louisiana state waters, a two-phase program designed to safely locate and remove orphan anchors in areas where such actions would provide a net environmental benefit.
Over a five-month period and at the direction of the Coast Guard, BP has conducted a search to identify, locate, and potentially retrieve anchors that were not initially recovered when containment boom, deployed in response to the oil spill, was removed. Local communities, individuals, and contractors with direct knowledge of where containment boom was deployed were involved along with using cutting-edge technology to assist with the effort. Every anchor that could be safely recovered was removed.
“We have conducted an exhaustive process to safely search for and remove boom anchors from Louisiana waters in order to prevent damage they could cause to fragile ecosystems or submerged pipelines. We have concluded that the few remaining anchors aren’t an ecological or human health risk, and in fact their removal would pose a greater risk to these sensitive ecosystems,” said Coast Guard Capt. Julia Hein, Federal On-Scene Coordinator for the GCIMT. “They also do not pose a threat to navigation because they are buried approximately two meters or more in the consolidated sediment layer.”
During the Deepwater Horizon BP oil spill, response crews deployed more than two million feet of containment boom in Louisiana to help protect inland marshes, bird nesting areas, and wildlife habitat. Responders used Danforth-style anchors, which are designed to embed in the sediment and collapse flat when not in use, to secure boom in place. After the boom was retrieved, it was discovered that some of the anchors were solidly embedded in the sediment due to storms or other occurrences.
The Coast Guard commissioned a Net Environmental Benefit Analysis team to identify and evaluate options for the remaining anchors, and make a science-based recommendation on whether removing the anchors posed a greater risk to the environment than leaving them in place. The NEBA team recommended leaving the remaining buried anchors in place as the best immediate and long-term option because they are not deemed a threat to humans, aquatic life, vessels or the environment.
The Natural Resource Damage Assessment Trustees will continue to review the remaining orphan anchors as part of the ongoing damage assessment process.