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Massive Oil Plume Forecast To Reach Park Tomorrow

Gulf Islands National Seashore

National Park News

The oil plume from the sunken oil rig Deepwater Horizon made landfall late yesterday afternoon along the Mississippi River delta. It’s forecast to progress northward and eastward and estimated to make landfall in the park’s Mississippi District tomorrow and the Florida District on Monday. The incident has been legally "federalized," which opens the door to public funding and a DOD response, which was immediate. Rough weather forecast for this weekend may cause unusually high oil inundation of beaches – reaching vegetation – unless landfall comes later than forecast. Here are the IMT’s eight incident objectives and today’s update on recent actions in each area:

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

  • Ground surveys are nearly complete and should be finished today.
  • Water and sediment sampling in conjunction with NOAA was carried out yesterday in the Mississippi District. The Florida District will be done today.
  • Guidance is being provided to other Gulf Coast parks.

Objective 2: Integrate and coordinate all operations and planning in concert with the unified incident management teams.
  • There are three NPS IMT personnel embedded in the unified IMT.
  • NPS IMT personnel are also embedded in the Mobile Sector unified IMT.
  • NPS IMT personnel are integrated with operational personnel at field command posts/staging areas in both Mississippi and Florida.
  • An NPS IMT representative will be positioned at the area command ICP in Robert, Louisiana, effective today.

Objective 3: Apply preventative measures to protect most sensitive natural resources, especially resources at risk.
  • Park areas received a very high percentage of the total boom footage deployed to date along the entire threatened coastline.
  • Containment booms exists on Cat Island, West Ship Island, East Ship Island, Horn Island, Perdido Key, and Ft. Pickens. Additional deployments were made at Davis Bayou, Perdido Key and Ft. Pickens yesterday, but rough seas did not permit further deployment along Mississippi District islands.
  • The Navy is planning to deploy ocean booms along parts of the south side of the Mississippi District islands.
  • 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 has researched sources (within and external to the NPS) for potential future needs at Gulf Islands or another Gulf Coast park.

Objective 4: Provide for safety of visitors as well as the safety and welfare of park staff, and incident personnel.
  • A stockpile of PPE for working around nonvolatile oil was ordered on Thursday.

Objective 5:  Support and coordinate the natural resource damage assessment on NPS lands with the UC IMT.
  • IMT staff continue to work 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.
  • With assistance of SEAC, vulnerable archeological sites have been identified on maps. SEAC recommends deployment of specialists at time of cleanup to protect sites from heavy equipment.

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

Objective 8:  Maintain financial responsibility and be accountable for expenditures.
  • Improved tracking of IMT expenditures is planned for Friday with the arrival of a finance section chief.
Many additional personnel were ordered on Thursday, but obtaining others has become a serious problem – some wildlife biologist and information officer orders remain unfilled. The Pacific West Team (Denny Ziemann, IC) is en route; transition is set to take place tomorrow.

Click on the link below to see a New York Times map showing the extent of the spill and the areas at risk, including Gulf Islands NS.


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