What Congress was told June 9 about the BP oil leak

McClatchy NewspapersJune 10, 2010 

This is an e-mail summary of a conference call among members of Congress, their staff and Obama administration officials regarding the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. It is unedited. 3PM CALL REPORT OF NOTABLE ITEMS

The following is an unofficial summary of the 3pm Congressional Conference call regarding the Gulf of Mexico incident. This summary is not meant to reflect a precise transcription of the conference call, but rather provides an abbreviated, truncated run-down of most points/questions covered on the call.

Call notes from the 3pm Congressional Members and Staff Call for June 9, 2010 – Day 51

Call Managed by Chris Mansour, DOI Congressional Affairs

Cpt. June Ryan , USCG

Subsurface – Over last 24 hours, 14,207 gal. dispersants used

Surface – Over last 24 hours, 7350 barrels of oily water collected by skimming, total to date is 383,046 barrels of oil water collected. Last 24 hours, 8324 gal. dispersants, 15 in-situ burns totaling 22 hours and 30 min, one burn was 6:39 hours

Shoreline – 62,000 feet of boom laid out yesterday

Other – 41,958 claims for total of $52 million

Keith Good, COS, MMS

Relief well 1 – 14,000 and completing casing hanger

Relief Well 2 – [no update]

Cap – Collecting about 14,000 barrels, and 4 mcf of gas flared, they have a barge tied up collecting oil until weather turns bad. Several midterm solutions are in place and working on longer solutions, which could capture up to 20-25k per day.

Doug Helton, NOAA

Been no change in fisheries closures

Weather is good for operations, there is an onshore flow which will bring oil more towards shore

The offshore track is showing that the loop current is starting to reform, there is a report of eddys of tar ball off the loop current toward Florida

Near shore trajectory, has SE winds and currents moving more oil towards MS, AL and FL panhandle.

Expecting more westward winds over next few days.

Jeff Underwood, FWS

There is need for increasing staff in response requirements, the director asked all employees to call on more staff to be prepared to participate in spill response.

There were 209 oil pelicans observed yesterday, area found boom which was contaminating birds and pelican chicks

More teams in Texas region are ramping up

QUESTIONS

Staff, Energy Committee

Q: Re: Secretary’s testimony from this morning about the amount of oil flowing from the well, can we expect some additional estimates on oil release?

A: DOI – There are days away from updated thoughts on the amount of the oil coming out of the well.

Staff, Rep. Bilirakis

Q: NOAA, are you considering waiver for license and permitting fees due to closures?

A: NOAA – Will consult with folks and get answers.

Staff, Rep. Wasserman Schultz

Q: Have folks who are looking for contracts for web clean up how do we do?

A: Need to go through fed biz ops.gov which is the best site

Staff, Sen. Gillibrand

Q: Are there subsea oil plumes and how will those get cleaned up?

A: NOAA we are tracking and the information shows that there are not in concentrations that are troubling, as they move further away from the well head we expect those to disperse more.

Q: Responding to BP comment that by Monday or Tuesday will be reduced to a trickle, they mention that a cap with additional ship will be adequate, is that true? What role will relief wells play?

A: DOI - The only way to kill the well is from the bottom. MMS – Going to bring in different tighter cap and other equipment which could catch the amount coming out of the well.

Q: What efforts are being done to coordinate briefings, factual briefings, about what is going on? BP is saying things that don’t seem to be true and what is the government doing to correct the record.

A: MMS – Not sure what time frame will be in place to catch more oil they are expecting the end of the week to reduce to a small level the current flow coming out of the well. At this point, there is hope that this will all work. DOI – It is unlikely that there will be a system to capture everything coming out of the well, it is important to manage expectations.

Staff, Science Committee

Q: How much confidence do you have in the BP projections of flow rate?

A: MMS - That is a projection by the government not by BP. When the cap get tightened they will know better what is being capture. DOI - the total flow will only be captured to determine what is the flow rate.

Staff, Natural Resources, Republicans

Q: Yesterday’s NTL included requirements for 3rd Party inspection of BOPs, is there a list of approved companies that can conduct those inspections?

A: MMS – Not that they are aware of – no MMS approved list.

Q: As a follow up, will the 3rd party inspectors be liable in case of a failure of the BOP which they inspect?

A: MMS – Don’t know about that will check. DOI [very defensively] – The report to the President had lots of information about the BOP requirements which didn’t consider them very onerous on industry.

Staff, House Science

Q: Since you don’t know that the flow rate is how do you determine what the flow rate of the dispersant should be?

A: They are working on a visual operation of what is appropriate

Q: So the dispersant volume is based off a visual confirmation?

A: Yes you use visual tests, like putting oil and dish soap

Staff, Rep. Markey

Q: Fisheries closure number?

A: It is unchanged at 32%.

Staff, Rep. Inslee

Q: What do we know about the damage to the casing of the well?

A: MMS – We don’t know anything about the integrity of the casing, regardless we won’t interact with the well until it is plugged.

Q: Read a Robert Bea article about how casing damage could cause problems

A: MMS – The well will connect below the casing and should have no impact.

Staff, Rep. Klein

Q: With regards to the loop current and training in opportunities for local folks to coordinate for pickups and other training

A: USCG – The training for FL is same as other places and they are not permitting untrained folks to pick up tar balls.

Q: The congressman would like county folks trained so they can clean up

A: NOAA – yes we are working on training some folks

-End of Call-

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