After 18 months of sustained effort to clean the shoreline of the Gulf of Mexico following the Deepwater Horizon accident, the U.S. Coast Guard’s federal on-scene coordinator (FOSC) has approved the shoreline clean-up completion plan, paving the way for restoration work, according to BP.
Under the plan, the FOSC will determine which shoreline segments have completed the active clean-up measures and can transition out of the response phase. That will allow the federal and state trustees to move forward with BP-funded restoration activities, the company said.
“This is an important milestone in the recovery process for the Gulf Coast,” said Mike Utsler, head of BP’s Gulf Coast Restoration Organization. “As final shoreline clean-up operations are completed, restoration activities can begin that will enhance the Gulf Coast ecosystem and its communities. BP has already pledged up to $1 billion to fund early restoration projects as part of the Natural Resources Damage Assessment and we are working with federal and state trustees to determine where to begin those efforts.”
The FOSC, in consultation with relevant State and Federal Trustees established the clean-up standards for each impacted segment of the shoreline. Those standards form the basis for this new plan, which the FOSC developed with representatives of Alabama, Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi, as well as NOAA and the Department of the Interior.
Of the more than 4,300 miles of Gulf Coast shoreline surveyed, 635 were impacted and required some level of active cleaning. Today, over 90 percent of shoreline in the impacted area has met the agreed upon standards to transition out of the response phase, owing largely to a cleanup that has been unprecedented in scope, according to BP.
At the height of the response, more than 48,000 responders were involved in capping the well, removing oil from the water and shoreline, protecting the coast, and rescuing and rehabilitating wildlife.
“Since then, with the help of committed federal, state and local officials as well as thousands of Gulf Coast residents, we have made extraordinary strides,” BP said in a statement, noting that to date, there have been an estimated 66.5 million hours devoted to the response, as well as 95,000 tons of oiled debris has been collected from the shoreline.
BP said so far $13.6 billion has been spent on the clean-up, and $7.3 billion paid in claims and other support payments.