New monitoring plan to be created to find oil from Deepwater Horizon spill


National Incident Commander retired Adm. Thad Allen said Friday that he will attempt to unify all efforts to track the amount of oil in the Gulf of Mexico, following repeated questions about how much oil actually remains in the water and along the shore.

“There has been a lot of discussions since the oil budget was released regarding what the implications were of that 26 percent of the pie,” Allen said in a call to reporters with The Times-Picayune this morning.

Allen was referring to a report issued by NOAA last week that said only 26 percent of the more than 200 million barrels of oil released following the Deepwater Horizon accident in April remained as oil. The rest, he said, had either been broken down into tiny droplets and been dispersed or dissolved, or had been collected or burned at surface.

Allen said he’d talked to NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, U.S. Geological Survey director Marcia McNutt, and officials with EPA about gathering all information about the presence of oil.

“I think what we need to do is mass our forces and then go out and try and find where that oil (is), the implications of it, in maybe a more comprehensive task force approach,” he said.

A variety of efforts are underway to identify oil on the surface or just below, on shorelines and in deeper water, including research vessels operated by federal agencies and universities. Allen said the federal-BP response team also is monitoring for oil using crab traps filled with absorbent materials and other devices in waters near the coast of Louisiana and other states.

The information gathered under the combined effort would help direct both long-term recovery efforts and could be used in the Natural Resource Damage Assessment process that eventually will identify what mitigation projects BP will be required to pay for.

Allen was to discuss the new plan with Gov. Bobby Jindal and Louisiana parish presidents at a meeting this morning.

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Stuart H. Smith is an attorney based in New Orleans fighting major oil companies and other polluters.
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