U.S. COAST GUARD
Contract workers deploy fresh sorbent boom around Queen Bess Island, near Grand Isle, La., Aug 6. With open-water oil-
skimming operations having ceased, the main focus of the Deepwater Horizon spill response now is on cleaning up the beach-
es and marshland, with a special emphasis on the hard-hit areas of Grand Isle, Barataria, Jefferson and Terrebonne, La.
Shortly before the well was capped, the National
Incident Command’s Flow Rate Technical Group was
allowed to measure the oil flow rate and estimated that
53,000 barrels per day were leaking at that time and
62,000 barrels per day had been leaking at the beginning of the spill. The Coast Guard announced these
findings Aug. 2.
The Coast Guard continues to maintain a heavy
presence in the region, with Reservists making up the
majority of the nearly 2,200 personnel taking part in
cleanup activities as of Aug. 11. Most of them are stationed in Louisiana and Mississippi.
Now that the well has been capped, Allen has started to reflect on what has worked and what areas need
improvement for future oil spill responses.
“Overall, if I were to give you two or three areas
where there were challenges moving forward that we
had to overcome, one would obviously be the management of command and control and coordination of all
the vessels of opportunity,” Allen said.
As of Aug. 11, there were 4,140 vessels and barges
assisting in the cleanup, along with more than 30,000
personnel and 75 fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft.
“We’ve never had a response in the history of the
nation that has had this many private citizens involved in
it. And we basically created a water-borne militia that
needed command-and-control structure and air surveillance to adequately support it,” Allen said.
He credited the advanced technologies — such as an
armada of remotely operated unmanned underwater
vehicles and the drillship equipment and caps that
helped capture some of the oil at the wellhead — that
was used during the effort as a major asset in the
cleanup and capping of the well.
“The moving into the free-standing risers and the
floating production units was a major breakthrough
for how we handle production in the Gulf and will
probably have to be a part of any response package
moving forward that did not exist nor was it part of the
response plans previously,” Allen said.
Allen said his position as national incident commander could end in early October if the well is completely sealed and no oil is on the water or shore for an
extended period of time. ■