The federal on-scene coordinator for the BP Deepwater Horizon oil disaster of 2010 has announced that the Gulf Coast Incident Management Team has started the transition back to routine National Response Center reporting, an indication that the federal government’s role is moving into a post-spill phase of operations after the largest and most devastating environmental disaster in U.S. history.
“This is another important step towards meeting our goal of returning the shoreline to as close to pre-spill conditions as possible while managing the scale of the response to meet conditions on the ground,” said Coast Guard Capt. Duke Walker, the coordinator for the Deepwater Horizon Response team.
Officials expect the coastlines of Florida, Alabama and Mississippi to complete this transition by mid-June.
“We will continue to respond and cleanup MC252 oil that can be removed without further damaging the environment creating the conditions for continued restoration work,” Walker said. “However, we’ve reached a point in some areas where the impact to the environmentally sensitive land outweighs the minimal amounts of oil being collected. Making the transition at this time will allow us to adjust to a smaller footprint for cleanup while being environmentally friendly.”
The primary function of the National Response Center is to serve as the sole national point of contact for reporting all oil, chemical, radiological, biological and etiological discharges into the environment anywhere in the United States and its territories. The reported information is passed to a local Coast Guardsman who investigate the report and take appropriate action.
Transitioning these areas back to the NRC reporting process is part of the National Contingency Plan. The Coast Guard will maintain oversight of the responsible party and continue to follow established protocol including sampling, fingerprinting and other investigative means to identify the source of the pollution and find the responsible party. If oil is found to be MC252 oil, BP will be held accountable for the cleanup.
“The public has been a huge and helpful source of information for our cleanup efforts,” Walker said.
He encourages citizens to be involved in making reports to the National Response Center by calling 1-800-424-8802.
The public can also find more information on the National Response Center and the reporting process at www.nrc.uscg.mil.
© 2013, Glynn Wilson. All rights reserved.