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NOAAs Reponse To Oil Spill

We are all watching the unfolding oil spill incident occurring in the Gulf
of Mexico and are deeply concerned over the anticipated impacts this spill
can have on marine life and the economies which rely on them.
I want to give you a brief summary of NOAA's and Fisheries' full engagement
in the response process and provide you with a link to a web page NOAA has
established through its Office of Response and Restoration where you can be
kept informed of daily events.

As you know, on April 20th there was an explosion that resulted in a fire on
the Deepwater Horizon, a mobile offshore drilling unit in the Gulf of Mexico
~50 miles offshore Louisiana. The rig burned for hours and then sank. Eleven
out of 126 people remain unaccounted for. It was recenlty discovered that
there are multiple leaks at a depth of 5,000 feet.

So far, attempts to use remotely operated vehicles to close valves and stop
the leaks have been unsuccessful. Construction has begun on a collection
dome that will be deployed to the sea floor to collect and funnel oil as it
escapes, a method never tried at this depth before. The first rig to be used
for drilling a relief or cut-off well has arrived and more are planned. A
relief well would take several months to complete.

NOAA has fully mobilized all of its offices. Our experts are involved in
predicting where the oil is going and how the weather and sea will affect
the oil and cleanup efforts. NOAA experts are also advising the Coast Guard
on cleanup options, as well as monitoring and assessing damage to fish,
shellfish, marine mammals, sea turtles, as well as critical and essential
fish habitat.

NOAA is posting daily updates at Click on the "NOAA Assists
Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill Efforts" link which will take you to the NOAA
Office of Response and Restoration page at I would encourage you
to bookmark this page as a key resource of information.

If you have additional questions, please contact Laurel Bryant at

Thank you for your interest and concern at this critical time.

Eric C. Schwaab

Assistant Administrator for Fisheries

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