Official sees oil spill cleanup along Gulf Coast continuing for months

Paula Dittrick
OGJ Senior Staff Writer

HOUSTON, Oct. 14 -- Some 16,200 people continue working on oil spill response efforts in Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana, US Coast Guard Rear Adm. Paul Zukunft said in a weekly news briefing on Oct. 13. More than 10,000 of those workers are assigned to Louisiana’s oiled marshes.

“I envision there will probably be some areas along the shoreline where we’ll have cleanup operations going on through the winter,” Zukunft said. The Louisiana marsh cleanup efforts are “proving to be very labor intensive and time-consuming work.”

Zukunft listed “some of our more challenging areas” as recreational beaches along the Florida Panhandle and Alabama’s Orange Beach Gulf Shores where oil has aggregated into the sand column.

“Then we have the barrier islands, especially off the coast of Mississippi, some of those still have oiling so we have a number of teams out working on the islands of Petty Boy, Ship Island, Horn island, Cat island, doing cleanup operations there,” Zukunft said.

An Oct. 13 Unified Area Command news release said about 98 miles of Gulf Coast shoreline had moderate to heavy oiling of which 88 miles was in Louisiana, 9 miles in Mississippi, and 1 mile in Florida. Another 458 miles of shoreline had light to trace oiling of which 203 miles was in Louisiana, 81 miles in Mississippi, 60 miles in Alabama, and 114 miles in Florida.

An Apr. 20 blowout of BP PLC’s Macondo well in 5,000 ft of water on Mississippi Canyon Block 252 resulted in an explosion and fire on Transocean Ltd.’s Deepwater Horizon semisubmersible, killing 11 workers and resulting in a massive oil spill in the gulf.
After the initial cleanup phase ends, Zukunft said “there’s a very long-term process called a natural resource damage assessment” to determine what needs to be done. “There’s still restoration activities taking place in Prince William Sound,” following the Mar. 24, 1989, oil spill from the Exxon Valdez tanker in Alaska, he said.

Contact Paula Dittrick at

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