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What Congress was told Monday about the BP Gulf oil leak

This is an e-mail summary of a conference call among members of Congress, congressional staff and Obama administration officials regarding the BP oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico. Spellings, abbreviations and references are the author's. It's posted without editing.


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 14, 2010 – Day 56

Christopher Mansour, Congressional and Legislative affairs, DOI - Call Moderator

We will be changing up the format of the call. From now on, we will have one presenter from a different agency on a different topic each day. Today’s is Dept of Labor on Safety.

Captain June Ryan, USCG

Subsurface: In the last 24 hr period 9,596 gallons of subsurface dispersant has been used. Oil and gas produced, about 15, 000 barrels captured, and 39.2 million cub feet of gas. Barge Cascade will begin helping with the offload, the barge Massachusetts has offloaded in the port of Mobil, AL and will be back tomorrow to help with the capacity issue.

Q4,000 that is going to go into the kill lines is in progress.

Well #2 -- is at 9,022 feet DD2

Well #3 – is at 13,974 feet

Weather: It’s partly cloudy, but there’s a heat advisory in effect. Seas are at 1 foot.

Surface: 12,383 barrels of oil water. 36,012 gallons of dispersants. 14 burns conducted yesterday.

Double and triple boom have been deployed because of the low waves.

Shoreline: 14,850 feet of boom deployed yesterday, cumulative 2.3 million feet of boom have been deployed. Part of the oil rig has washed up on shore and was taken into custody as part of the ongoing investigation. No change to NOAA fisheries closure, still at 32%

Claims: 57,744 claims to date. Cumulative total $63,256,489

Debbie Berkowitz, OSHA

Overview: OSHA has been staging at cleanup sites, air motioning, out at the skimming operations and in-situ burns. Going during the day and at night and are monitoring the training of the clean-up workers. OSHA has been working with Unified Command to work on the training program with the fishermen for increased security.

In response to the latest news reports about workers safety regarding the heat and the protection for workers: In the past 3 ½ weeks there have been about 100 incidents of workers becoming sick from heat stress. Some are fairly serious. The workers are wearing protective gear and boots in the hot weather. BP put into a place a work-rest regiment. Shaded areas are being provided for workers to prevent future illnesses. In addition, BP has implemented new conditions: workers being trained in recognizing the early signs of heat stress, they are required to drink liquids and take breaks.


Rep. Cassidy:

Q: As it regards those last work rules, are all workers, regardless of the number of hours they are working, are they still taking those same breaks?

A: No, it depends on the air conditions/heat

Q: Are there pre-employment exams? Spoke w/someone in a Parish back home, and they said that pre-existing conditions need to be taken into consideration

A: We screen folks before we send them into the heat.

Q: Why is BP drilling to 18,000 feet when the initial diagrams BP put out, showed the relief wells intersecting the existing (leaking) bore at 16,000. We continue to hear now they’re going to 18,000, can’t we save time by going to 16,000?

A: Walter Cruickshank (MMS) said that the diagrams initially showed that the intersection was at 17,000 feet, but we’re going to 18,000.

Q: Do you have to go all the way down or can you intersect it higher in the bore?

A: It’s to make sure that the bore-hole well is deep enough. We know the reservoir is down in the well bore, then we can plug it before it reaches higher up nearer to the leak.

Q: Also been told if the shoe is placed incorrectly, then it’s difficult to plug the bottom of the well hole, to gain control?

A: I’m not an engineer, but if there’s a problem at the bottom, then it would contribute to the problem, but we don’t know for sure. I’ll get an answer from an engineer for tomorrow’s call.

Q: Also ask him why we can’t do it at 16,000 feet.

A: I will.

Staff, Rep. Bilirakis

Q: Can you repeat how much subsurface dispersant was used today and how much oil was captured?

A: Stated above.

Staff, Sen. Wicker

Q: Vietnamese community raised the issue that they’re having translation problems with BP and filing claims, and with NOAA maps and the updates. In LA, they have Thai interpreters; do we have Vietnamese interpreters in MS?

A: Do you know when this was a problem because they flew in interpreters in 2 weeks ago?

Q: The Senator had a town hall yesterday and was made aware of the problem as recent as then

A: We will take care of the Vietnamese issue, call me (cell # given)

Staff, Sen. Sessions

Q: Admiral Allen stated recently that 28,000 barrels/day will be contained. That the BP containment rate would be 50,000/day in June; how do we know what can be captured if we still don’t know the flow rate?

A: we’re measuring what’s being captured on the Enterprise and not letting water infiltrate the containment system. The number is based on the capacity of the capturing in the containment barges, so it’s based on capacity.

Staff, Sen. Lautenberg

Q: Do you have numbers for current surface area of the spill, how many miles has the coastline been effected?

A: I don’t have a number in square miles. Anomalous numbers are based on sheen, that’s why the aircraft are so critical.

Staff, Sen. Commerce Cmte

Q: Does EPA have any update on a less toxic dispersant; and do we have anything to clean the marshes?

A: have to get back to you on the second part, and the USCG has been the lead on that. As far as dispersants go, we’re doing testing right now, as is BP, that data will be available at the end of the month. Testing data won’t be complete before the end of the month.

-End of Call-

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