Deepwater Horizon Incident, Gulf of Mexico
As the nation's leading scientific resource for oil spills, NOAA has been on the scene of the Deepwater Horizon spill from the start, providing coordinated scientific weather and biological response services to federal, state and local organizations. More
Situation: Sunday 02 May
Today NOAA restricted fishing in federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico threatened the BP oil spill - from the mouth of the Mississippi to Pensacola Bay (***click here for map***). The closure, which will be in effect for at least 10 days, is to protect consumers and the seafood industry. Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke said, "We stand with America's fisherman, their families and businesses in impacted coastal communities during this very challenging time. Fishing is vital to our economy and our quality of life and we will work tirelessly protect to it". NOAA is part of the Department of Commerce. Support came from Harlon Pearce, Chairman, Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board and Ewell Smith, Executive Director, Louisiana Seafood Board who said, "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." Further details can be found here: http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/.
The state of Louisiana has already closed vulnerable fisheries in state waters – within 3 miles of the coast. NOAA is closing areas directly adjacent to the area closures enacted by Louisiana, and is working with state governors to evaluate the need to declare a fisheries disaster, which would facilitate federal aid to fishermen. NOAA fisheries representatives will be meeting with fishermen this week to assist them, and BP will be hiring fishermen to help clean up and deploy boom in the Gulf of Mexico.
President Obama was on-scene today getting a first-hand look at the spill, which is still leaking at a rate of approximately 5000 barrels (210,000 gallons) per day from three damaged sections of piping on the sea floor. Engineers are working to inject dispersants at the oil's source - 5000' below the surface. If successful, it could reduce or prevent an oil plume from forming at the surface. Drilling of a relief or cut-off well started today, but it will take several months to stop the flow. Work also continues on a collection dome at the sea floor; this technique has never been tried at 5000'. Very high winds and rough seas curtailed surface operations, such as skimming and applying dispersant by aircraft. Hundreds of thousands of feet of boom have been deployed to contain the spill, with hundreds of thousands more staged and ready to be deployed.
NOAA efforts have included: modeling the trajectory and extent of the oil, getting pre-impact samples surveys and baseline measurements, planning for open water and shoreline remediation, supporting the Unified Command as it analyzes new techniques for handling the spill and starting Natural Resource Damage Assessments (NRDA).
- NOAA's National Weather Service displayed radar data at central command today so the command could see where thunderstorm activity was moving and receive warnings immediately.
- A forecast decrease in winds should allow the full spectrum of surface operations starting tomorrow.
NOAA's Emergency Response Division (ERD) creates the oil trajectories that response planners rely on.
- The Coast Guard is using forecasts and graphics of oil movement prepared by NOAA's Emergency Response Division (ERD) and Marine Charting Division to keep mariners out of oil areas by depicting them on electronic charts.
- NOAA's Assessment and Restoration Division (ARD) completed additional baseline sampling in Gulf Islands National Seashore in conjunction with NOAA Restoration Center, National Park Service and Florida Department of Environmental Protection staff.
- Natural resource economists from ARD also drafted plans to systematically survey recreational users along the Gulf Coast about their use of areas affected by the spill.
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