Oil is hazardous. Dispersants are toxic. Now BP's admitting it -- sort of.

The New Orleans Captain of the Port, under the authority of the Ports and Waterways Safety Act, established a 100-meter “safety zone” around all oil disaster response operations, including booming operations and booms in Southeast Louisiana. Violations can result in a fine up to $40,000 and willful violations are a Class D felony.

According to the press release, the safety zone is to “protect members of the response effort, the installation and maintenance of oil containment boom, the operation of response equipment and protection of the environment…” We applaud the Coast Guard for recognizing that safety needs to be a priority – which means adequate protective gear and training for all responders.  

While permission to enter the safety zone may be granted by the Captain of the Port (call 504.846.5923), is this yet another attempt to limit the public’s access to transparent information about BP’s response to the ongoing disaster? Are we going to see fewer and fewer photos and videos from Louisiana’s coast because of this new restriction? How soon until the entire Gulf Coast, including its airspace, is restricted from public view?

Recent press release from the Deepwater Horizon Incident Joint Incident Center.
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Coast Guard establishes safety zone around all Deepwater Horizon protective boom, operations in Southeast, La.

Houma, La., - The New Orleans Captain of the Port, under the authority of the Ports and Waterways Safety Act, has established a 100- meter safety zone surrounding all Deepwater Horizon booming operations and oil response efforts taking place in Southeast Louisiana.

Vessels must not come within 100 meters of booming operations, boom, or oil spill response operations under penalty of law. 

The safety zone has been put in place to protect members of the response effort, the installation and maintenance of oil containment boom, the operation of response equipment and protection of the environment by limiting access to and through deployed protective boom.

In areas where vessels operators cannot avoid the 100-meter rule, they are required to be cautious of boom and boom operations by transiting at a safe speed and distance.

Violation of a safety zone can result in up to a $40,000 civil penalty. Willful violations may result in a class D felony.

Permission to enter any safety zone must be granted by the Coast Guard Captain of the Port of New Orleans by calling 504-846-5923.

For information about the response effort, visit www.deepwaterhorizonresponse.com.

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See also: Deepwater Horizon Response (6/30): "Coast Guard establishes 20-meter safety zone around all Deepwater Horizon protective boom; operations," by staff.  https://www.piersystem.com/go/doc/2931/726955/

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