Just days before the fourth anniversary of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster and oil spill, the Coast Guard moved cleanup of Louisiana’s coast to a new phase Tuesday, allowing BP to end its “active” efforts in the area.
The Coast Guard issued a directive transitioning the cleanup to a phase in which Coast Guard teams, BP cleanup crews and equipment will be pre-positioned to respond to new reports of oil as needed, the Times-Picayune reported.
BP said in a news release that the Coast Guard’s directive ended patrols of the final three miles of affected shoreline in Louisiana. The move completes a cleanup operation that ended in Florida, Alabama and Mississippi last June.
“Immediately following the Deepwater Horizon accident, BP committed to cleaning the shoreline and supporting the Gulf’s economic and environmental recovery. Completing active cleanup is further indication that we are keeping that commitment,” said John Mingé, chairman and president of BP America.
“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,” said Laura Folse, executive vice president for Response and Environmental Restoration.
The Coast Guard is the federal agency overseeing the cleanup efforts. It’s in charge of monitoring Louisiana’s coast, investigating reports of oil, and deciding whether to order BP to do further cleanup.
“Our response posture has evolved to target re-oiling events on coastline segments that were previously cleaned,” said Coast Guard Capt. Thomas Sparks, the 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.”
Folse said BP has spent more than $14 billion and more than 70 million personnel hours on response since the accident happened. Its cleanup involved aerial surveys of more than 14,000 miles of shoreline and ground inspections of more than 4,400 miles, the company said.
BP said it found oil in 1,104 miles of coast, with 778 miles requiring “some measure of cleaning.”
The Deepwater Horizon explosion occurred on April 20, 2010, claiming 11 lives and causing millions of barrels of oil to be spilled into the Gulf over the next several months.
Jefferson Parish Council Chairman Chris Roberts said additional cleanup will be needed as hurricanes and other weather events unearth more oil along the coast.
“We have been assured protections exist to hold BP responsible as needed. We will expect that these commitments hold true when the next response to oiling is necessary,” Roberts said. “This is not the end of the cleanup rather the next phase of a long term process.”
Much of the affected areas in Louisiana were coastal marshes, where cleaning oil was more difficult as officials considered whether cleanup efforts would cause more damage to marshes than the oil.
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