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White House provides update on Gulf oil spill response (5/4)

May 4, 2010
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President Obama has dispatched the secretaries of Commerce, Interior and Homeland Security, as well as the NOAA Administrator, to return to the Gulf Coast this week. Specific details on their travel will come from their departments and agencies, but collectively they will be inspecting the ongoing, coordinated response efforts to mitigate the impact of the spill on public health, the environment and the economy. They will meet with business owners to discuss potential economic impacts of this spill across the Gulf Coast region.

Secretary Salazar, Secretary Napolitano, EPA Administrator Jackson and other members of the Obama administration met with BP CEO Tony Hayward and BP America Chairman and President Lamar McKay at the Department of the Interior to discuss ongoing, coordinated response efforts and receive an update on BP’s mitigation plans for potentially impacted Gulf Coast states. This is the most recent in a series of meetings that have taken place between administration leadership and BP leadership.

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 — with encouraging results so far. Nearly 3,000 gallons of subsea dispersants were applied, and BP and NOAA continue to evaluate these tests to determine the feasibility of continued use of subsea dispersants.

More than 2,000 volunteers have been trained to assist in the response effort to date. Volunteer recruitment efforts include outreach to local fishermen with boats, which can be used as vessels of opportunity to assist contractors in deploying boom.

Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels visited Louisiana with a team of experienced hazardous materials professionals leading an effort to ensure that oil spill cleanup workers receive necessary protections from the hazards of this work. OSHA is consulting with BP, as well as federal agency partners, to ensure that workers receive appropriate training and protective equipment.

Nine staging areas are now set up to protect vital shoreline in all potentially affected Gulf Coast states (Biloxi, Miss., Pensacola, Fla., Pascagoula, Miss., Dauphin Island, Ala., Port Sulphur, La., Shell Beach, La., Slidell, La., Port Fourchon, La., Venice, La.).

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.

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.

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