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Oil Spill Forecast To Soon Reach Park Shores

Gulf Islands National Seashore

National Park News

Discharge from the sunken drilling rig Deepwater Horizon is now estimated by NOAA at five thousand barrels per day – five times as much as previously estimated. Concerns about the stability of the wellhead increased yesterday. The latest prediction out of unified command is for landfall along the Mississippi River delta tonight (much earlier than previous projections). The plume will progress northward over the next couple of days and may make landfall in the park’s Mississippi District by Saturday or before. A test burn was conducted yesterday involving some of the heavier concentrations of crude in the open Gulf. The park IMT prepared a new set of long-term objectives yesterday. Here are the eight objectives and related actions:

Objective 1: Conduct a current-condition resource damage assessment.

  • Progress continues to be made on ground surveys. They should be completed today.
  • Water and sediment sampling in conjunction with NOAA is tentatively planned for today.
  • Grassbed assessments are tentatively planned.

Objective 2: Integrate and coordinate all operations and planning in concert with the unified incident management teams.
  • The number of NPS IMT personnel embedded in the unified IMT in Houma will increase to three today.
  • NPS IMT personnel are now embedded in the Mobile Sector unified IMT that was activated yesterday.
  • NPS IMT personnel are integrated with operational personnel at field command posts/staging areas in Mississippi and Florida.

Objective 3: Apply preventive measures to protect most sensitive natural resources, especially resources at risk.
  • In concert with NPS IMT guidance, NPS areas have received very high priorities in both districts.
  • Containment booms were placed yesterday at selected points on Cat Island, West Ship Island, East Ship Island, Horn Island, Perdido Key, and Ft. Pickens. Additional deployments are planned (weather permitting) for today, including Petis Bois Island and Santa Rosa.
  • The IMT will further evaluate the ability to cover other areas not completed by the UC IMT. Forecast bad weather over the next several days may impede further deployments and may damage booms in place.
  • EICC is reaching sources (within and external to the NPS) for potential future need at Gulf Island or another Gulf coastal park.

Objective 4: Provide for safety of visitors, park staff, and incident personnel.
  • SER Public Health staff have determined that drinking water wellheads are not at risk.
  • PPE for working around non-volatile oil has been researched and a stockpile will be ordered today.

Objective 5:  Support and coordinate the natural resource damage assessment within NPS lands with the UC IMT.
  • IMT staff are working closely with FWS, NOAA, and other agencies within the UC IMT.
  • IMT staff are coordinating with Jean Lafitte, Padre Island, De Soto, Everglades and Dry Tortugas in anticipation of potential future impacts.

Objective 6:  Minimize degradation to natural and cultural resources as a result of oil or clean-up efforts after landfall.
  • The IMT is working with SEAC to identify vulnerable archeological sites.
  • No oil impacts have occurred to date.

Objective 7:  Maintain/restore visitor services and normal park operations.
  • Visitor services are not currently impacted.

Objective 8:  Maintain financial responsibility and be accountable for expenditures.
  • Efforts are being made to improve tracking of IMT expenditures.
Several additional single resources were ordered for the team yesterday. Approximately two dozen personnel are assigned to the incident, some part time. An assessment by the IMT yesterday determined that the anticipated complexity of the operation will likely exceed the capacity of the park's Type III team by the time of landfall, so, with the concurrence of the superintendent and the regional director, a Type II team was ordered. The Pacific West Team (Ziemann, IC) has been committed. There’s no estimate yet of a transition date and time. The IMT anticipates that we need to prepare for the long haul.


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