Thursday, October 7, 2010

Decision-Making within the Unified Command

The National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling released this draft report finds that as of July 15, 2010—the day the well stopped flowing—the response involved approximately 44,000 responders; more than 6,870 vessels (including skimmers, tugs, barges, and recovery vessels); approximately 4.12 million feet of boom; 17,500 National Guard troops from Gulf Coast states; five states; multiple corporations; and untold hours of work by federal, state, and local officials; employees or contractors of BP; and private citizens.

The paper identifies situations in which responders altered, or operated outside of, the National Contingency Plan structure and suggests possible recommendations for improvement of that structure in the future.

Issues for the Commission To Consider: Scale and Structure of the Response: Was the structure of the response adequate for the nature of the spill, and was that structure put into place quickly enough? Role of the Responsible Party: Did BP exercise too much control over the response? If not, what factors led to the public perception that BP, and not the government, was in charge of the response? Interaction with State and Local Officials: Does the NCP appropriately integrate state and local officials in the response, and were such officials appropriately involved in this response? Should the NCP and existing contingency planning documents be changed to create a larger or clearer role for state and local officials in oil spill response?

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