Deepwater Horizon / BP Gulf Oil Spill Response


LOCATION: Chalmette, Venice, Houma, and New Orleans, Louisiana

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 6, under contract to Weston Solutions, Inc.

Overview:

  • Multiple sampling areas and potential exposure areas
  • Use of advanced air monitoring instruments with real-time data collection capabilities
  • Involvement with local, state, and federal emergency response agencies
  • Provided Geographic Information System (GIS) and Data Management support
  • Conducted data audits, oceanographic/geo-spatial data processing and data warehousing in EPA’s Scribe database
  • Maintained a Sampling/Monitoring Program Information Matrix
  • Provided GIS and oceanographic data assessment support to EPA, NOAA, and the U.S. Coast Guard
  • Assisted the Operational Science Advisory Team (OSAT) with inclusive analytical data summaries and maps highlighting analytical data results Air quality assessment of volatile organic compounds and particulates

Description:

On April 20, 2010, British Petroleum’s Deepwater Horizon Oil Rig located approximately 50 miles off the coast of Louisiana in the Gulf of Mexico exploded and sank causing a massive underwater oil gusher. Efforts to cap the well proved difficult. The Weston/Avatar team provided U.S. Environmental Protection agency (EPA) with Geographic Information System (GIS) and Data Management support throughout the duration of the Gulf Oil Spill Response at the Incident Command Center (ICC) located in Houma, LA, as well as the Unified Area Command (UAC) located in New Orleans, LA. The team assisted EPA On-Site Coordinators (OCSs) with daily emergency response efforts specifically related to data and mapping activities associated with EPA’s on-going Air Monitoring, Surface Water and Sediment Sampling, and Waste Management programs. In addition, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) requested support from EPA to conduct data audits, oceanographic/geo-spatial data processing and data warehousing in EPA’s Scribe database. Oceanographic data was collected daily throughout the Response phase of the incident by numerous NOAA and BP vessels during ongoing NOAA Sub-surface Monitoring Unit (SMU) operations. Sample location coordinates were extracted from daily vessel data deliverables/reports and exported to geo- databases for mapping activities to support daily SMU mission guidance. Unified Command requested that EPA continue to maintain a Sampling/Monitoring Program Information Matrix developed early on in the incident response effort by Avatar. Organized by agency, it provided metadata including , program purpose, contact information, links to operating procedures, as well as every analysis conducted on literally hundreds of separate sampling tasks and programs. This became an invaluable reference and is expected to aid future research efforts. The team also provided GIS and oceanographic data assessment support to EPA, NOAA, and the US Coast Guard related to Phase II and III of the Special Monitoring of Applied Response Technologies (SMART) program. This included dispersant monitoring data analysis, summary, and summary graphic preparations with maps charts, photos, weather/sea conditions and efficacy statements to help document the effectiveness of vessel and aerial application of dispersants on oil slicks on the Gulf surface throughout the Gulf Response. SMART data was also maintained/ uploaded to EPA’s Scribe database by Weston/Avatar team data managers. Deepwater HorizonAs the response phase began to wind down, the team was re-assigned by EPA to the UAC, New Orleans to support a committee of scientists which became known as the Operational Science Advisory Team (OSAT). Avatar assisted OSAT with inclusive analytical data summaries and maps highlighting analytical data results and locations where Human Health Risk Assessment (HHRA) indicators exceeded specific established EPA benchmarks. OSAT used that information to identify data gaps and recommend additional sampling prior to transition from the response phase to the recovery/damage assessment phase of the incident. Avatar conducted air sampling and monitoring of VOCs and particulates in areas downwind of in-situ burning activities to assess air quality in southeast Louisiana. Three monitoring stations were established on the property of the local fire departments set up to log real-time data, which was sent back to the Command Post. PQ200 and EBAM analyzed air particulates 2.5 μ or smaller, collecting a sample every 24 hours from the PQ200 and every ten minutes as well as an hourly average from the EBAM. VOCs were analyzed by Summa Canisters, AreaRaes, and MiniRaes.