July 30, 2010

Long-Term Plans New Focus Of Gulf Spill Cleanup

New BP CEO Robert Dudley will be in Biloxi, Mississippi today to address the company's future plans for dealing with the ongoing Gulf of Mexico oil spill recovery efforts, according to Associated Press (AP) reports.

AP's Kevin McGill reports that Dudley was set to announce that former Federal Emergency Management Agency head James Lee Witt would be aiding the petroleum giant as they start formulating long-term plans to help the areas affected by the 100-plus day environmental disaster.

The move comes one-day after Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal pressed BP and government oil-spill response head Thad Allen to guarantee they would remain on-site to assist with clean-up efforts, even after the flow of crude into the Gulf waters was permanently halted.

"One of the things we absolutely wanted to get today was their commitment that they're in it for the long-term," Jindal told McGill following the meeting. "Look, all those (federal) people in the room, with no disrespect ... they're going to be rotated out to different jobs. Everybody here is still going to be here dealing with this oil whether it's a year from now or years from now."

The Gulf Coast spill, which is being called the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history, started back in April, when an explosion sank the Deepwater Horizon oil rig. Since then, as much as 184 million gallons of water leaked freely into the Gulf waters before a temporary cap stopped the leak back on July 15. The so-called static kill procedure, in which mud will be pumped into the well to permanently seal the leak, could begin this weekend and be completed in a couple of weeks.

"Little of the oil remains on the water, but that doesn't mean it has all vanished," McGill said. "Scientists are worried that much of it has been trapped below the surface after more than 770,000 gallons of chemical dispersant were used to break up the oil a mile deep. They have found evidence of massive clouds of oil suspended in the water."

"The Coast Guard expects oil to keep showing up on Gulf Coast beaches four to six weeks after the well is killed," the AP reporter added. "Allen said there is now little chance that any of the spilled oil will reach the East Coast, and the odds will go to zero as the well is killed."

Meanwhile, with the amount of visible crude decreasing daily, those employed by the government to skim oil from the water's surface under the government's "Vessels of Opportunity" program are growing more and more concerned that these temporary jobs will soon dry up.

According to Matt Davis of AFP, "Allen pledged to redeploy as many skippers as possible to other tasks, but could give no firm indication of how many of the 1,500 boats would still be working in the Gulf after next month."

Despite the lack of visible oil, "A large portion of the Gulf waters remain closed to commercial and recreational fishing and with lingering doubts about seafood safety, fishermen could effectively end up losing their jobs for a second time"¦ Many are worried it could be months or even years before they can fish again, and there are no guarantees the fish will be there in the same numbers when they do, or that they will be safe to eat."


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