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BP, USCG End Active Cleanup from Deepwater Horizon

By MarEx 2014-04-16 11:25:00

The U.S. Coast Guard ended patrols and operations on the final three shoreline miles in Louisiana, bringing to a close the extensive four-year active cleanup of the Gulf Coast following the Deepwater Horizon accident. These operations ended in Florida, Alabama and Mississippi in June 2013.

The large-scale cleanup effort, combined with early restoration projects and natural recovery processes, is helping the Gulf return to its baseline condition, which is the condition it would be in if the accident had not occurred. Although active cleanup has ended, the entire area of response is subject to the National Response Center (NRC) process.   Coast Guard personnel are pre-positioned to investigate any further reports of oil-based material. 

“BP has spent more than $14 billion and more than 70 million personnel hours on response and cleanup activities,” said Laura Folse, BP’s executive vice president for Response and Environmental Restoration. “Even though active cleanup has ended, we will keep resources in place to respond quickly at the Coast Guard’s direction if potential Macondo oil is identified and requires removal.”

“Our response posture has evolved to target re-oiling events on coastline segments that were previously cleaned,” said Capt. Thomas Sparks, the federal on-scene coordinator (FOSC) for the Deepwater Horizon Response.  “But let me be absolutely clear:  This response is not over - not by a long shot.  The transition to the Middle Response process does not end clean-up operations, and we continue to hold the responsible party accountable for Deepwater Horizon cleanup costs.”

The term “Middle R” is used to describe an enhanced NRC process of responding to reports of oiling across the Gulf with (1) dedicated Coast Guard teams pre-positioned for rapid response to residual oil; and (2) pre-stationed Oil Spill Removal Organizations on standby, ready to clean when directed.  This process is fully functioning on more than 3,200 miles of Louisiana shoreline as well as along the Florida, Alabama, and Mississippi coasts.

According to Sparks, the “Middle R” process requires continued but more focused response equipment and personnel.  This makes it not only a more nimble tool for targeted responses across a wide geographic area, but also reduces the impact on the coastal environment.

“Whenever an NRC case is initiated anywhere in the Gulf—which happens virtually every day—active clean-up operations are undertaken, and we go out and clean up the oil,” Sparks added.

Across the Gulf Coast, dedicated Coast Guard personnel have responded to 1,082 suspected Deepwater Horizon NRC reports and overseen the cleanup of more than 5,500 pounds of oily material since June 2013.

This transition is the latest in various process evolutions that account for changing oiling conditions and scientific data.  The Coast Guard also surges personnel to address potential re-oiling caused by extraordinary events such as hurricanes, severe storms, and unusual tidal conditions.

"We are absolutely committed to continuing the clean-up of Deepwater Horizon oil along the Gulf - for as long as it takes, and to surge as necessary and as the situation dictates," Sparks emphasized.