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What Congress was told June 11 about the BP oil leak

This is an e-mail summary of a conference call among members of Congress, congressional staff and administration officials regarding the Deepwater Horizon oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico. Sepllings, grammar and references are the author's. It is unedited by McClatchy.


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 11, 2010 – Day 53

Heather Urban, DOI – Call Moderator

Captain June Ryan, USCG

Subsurface: In the last 24 hr period 10,279 gallons of subsurface dispersant has been used.

Surface: 2,766 gallons of dispersant was used on the surface; 9,658 barrels of oil/water mixture was skimmed; and, 1 in-situ burn was conducted.

Shoreline: 37,350’ of boom was deployed yesterday.

Claims: To date 46,215 claims have been filed; BP has paid out $58,173,790.08 for 20,000 claims.

Ports: All ports remain open.

Walter Cruikshank, MMS

Containment: Volume measurements are made midnight to midnight, yesterday 31 mcf gas and than 15,400 barrels came through the ‘Top Hat’ assembly. Oil is being transferred to the barge Massachusetts. The barge is expected to move off the location today.

The second collection system utilizing the kill and choke lines is progressing nicely. It should be pre operational this weekend and fully operational early next week.

Relief Well #1 is at 13,978 ft; casing has been cemented to that depth. They are waiting on the cement to set up before commencing with drilling.

Relief Well #2 they have just resumed drilling. Currently the well is approximately 8,600’ deep.

Doug Hilton, NOAA

Near shore Trajectory: Winds out of SE at about 5 knots. Impacts to the shoreline are anticipated West of Pensacola, the Chandelier and Breton Islands, and the Mississippi Delta.

Offshore Trajectory: Narrow bands of oil S and SE of the main slick. Small slick entrained in a large clockwise Eddy Franklin that has pinched off from the main Loop Current. It appears that the eddy and the main Loop Current are trying to reconnect so they are monitoring it closely. Coast Guard over flights near the Florida cost did not observe any oil sheens.

Fishery Closures: No change to fish closures.


Staff, Senator Wicker’s Office

Q: Can you repeat the information on the total number of claims that have been filed?

A: CG – the total number of claims filed are 46,215 with a payout of $58 million.

Q: Can you tell me the total number of gallons of dispersants that have been used in the subsurface and on the surface?

A: CG – total dispersants used to date: 368,667 gallons have been applied at the source of the leak; and, 803,226 gallons have been applied at the surface.

Staff, Congressman Markey’s Office

Q: How do you determine how much dispersant to use and does that change per day?

A: CG – the average is about 10 gallons per minute. The actual amount depends on a visual inspection from the ROV.

Q: Do you have minimum or maximum to shoot for?

A: CG – it’s been about the same from the beginning, about 10 gallons/minute.

Staff, Senator Session’s Office

Q: What are OSHA’s requirements for how long people can work in the heat?

A: David Michaels, OSHA – OSHA does not have specific requirements or guidelines for working in the heat the Coast Guard does. They have a system that takes both the temperature and the humidity into consideration. Also the response teams are required to wear rubber boots and gloves, a tyvex suite and protective head gear. So these people may be working 20 minutes on and 40 minutes off. OSHA has instructed BP to follow the Coast Guard’s guidelines.

Congressman Cassidy

Q: For the people picking up tar balls, I understand that they don’t have to be fully protected with the suit I’ve seen some pictures but they’re still only working 15 or 20 minutes before they take a break. As someone who mowed lawns working my way through med school I know you can work longer than 30 minutes in the heat if you’re careful. Why are they only allowed to work for such brief periods of time? Also the CG said the time limits were OSHA requirements.

A: OSHA – the heat is a very serious problem we’ve already had over 100 heat incidences and 12 had to have additional medical attention.

Q: Well working 15 minutes on and 15 minutes off or more standing around talking on cell phones while other people (not part of the response team) are playing volleyball on the beach for extended periods of time makes for bad press. Can you provide me with a copy of the Guidance documents?

A: We’ll provide you with the guidance documents.

-End of Call-

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