In today’s Making Waves Podcast, the National Ocean Service looks back at NOAA’s role in the Deepwater Horizon spill response—the months when oil was spilling into the Gulf—through the eyes of one of the first NOAA responders to the spill. Debbie Payton, chief of the Office of Response and Restoration’s (OR&R) Emergency Response Division, joins in on this reflection of how thousands of NOAA staff plunged their efforts into the oily Gulf waters one year ago.
Put your ear to the podcast here:
The main job of OR&R’s Emergency Response Division during an oil or chemical spill is to give solid science to the decision makers, usually the U.S. Coast Guard, who need that information to keep harmful effects on people and planet as low as possible.
What could this scientific support look like during an emergency? It could mean figuring out the chemical make-up of whatever was spilled (for example, is it thick and heavy crude oil or light and thinly spread out diesel?) and what threats it might pose to people, plants, and wildlife. This helps answer important questions about things like seafood safety, public health, and marine mammal protection.
Debbie Payton: “Those are all pieces of what NOAA does. The science support is gathering all that information, all that information coming from not only federal scientists, but other scientists as well, and trying to put that into a cohesive information that the Coast Guard, who’s helping to direct the response, can use to answer specific questions: where is the oil going, what’s it going to look like when it gets there, what’s the threat to birds or turtles, or other resources, and how can we best clean it up.”
For the latest updates on what’s going on in the Gulf, keep tabs on Gulfspillrestoration.noaa.gov. And if you just can’t get enough about NOAA’s role in the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, head over to the Office of Response and Restoration Deepwater Horizon Incident page.