Oil response hurricane plans still lacking details

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by Maya Rodriguez / Eyewitness News

wwltv.com

Posted on June 23, 2010 at 5:56 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jun 23 at 6:26 PM

 

More than three weeks into hurricane season, there are still no firm plans from BP nor Unified Command, on how to handle the oil response should a storm threaten.

This comes as a weather disturbance in the Caribbean Sea is forecast to move into the Gulf early next week.

The situation is now worrying state and local officials, who wonder how BP will evacuate its assets stationed in some of Louisiana's most storm-vulnerable parishes.

"I don't have a lot of faith in the decision-making," said Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser.

Nungesser said the parish has already started making its own plans. They met with BP representatives on Wednesday, to offer them a staging area on the north end of the parish, where the oil response equipment could be placed in an emergency.

"Anything you want to bring from Venice, this is your spot," Nungesser said. "This area is for your subcontractors."

The concerns lie not just with Plaquemines Parish. Governor Bobby Jindal on Wednesday also expressed concerns that BP's overall hurricane plans lack critical details.

"We're still not satisfied, as of today. We're pushing them back again, in terms of securing some of the evacuation sites, their staging areas and the resources they're going to need," said Gov. Jindal, R-Louisiana. "We want to make sure they have adequate resources and, secondly, that they are not depending on resources that other entities may be counting on."

One of the most important resources is time, which is needed to evacuate coastal parishes before a storm hits, under normal circumstances. Yet, the oil spill in Gulf is anything but normal and there are real concerns about whether evacuating workers and equipment could interfere with residents trying to get out at the same time.

"There is no way physically possible, we will get all these men ashore in buses and out of this parish and out of this state or to safe haven, without, in my opinion, putting our resident at additional risk," Nungesser said. "If they want to get out, they're going to have to leave extra early.

In news conference Wednesday, U.S. Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen said the hurricane plans were still being worked on. He also added that getting workers and equipment out early, far ahead of a storm, would be key: at least three to seven days prior to landfall.

"If you kind of look at the area between the Yucatan [Peninsula], Cuba and the Straits of Florida, that's kind of a radius or a perimeter," Adm. Allen said. "Anything approaching that area with a trajectory that could fall in that area, should prompt some action at that point.

Whether that move will be needed during this hurricane season remains to be seen.

 

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