P!Npartners: The UNC Hazards Center and the Oil Spill

P!Npartners: The UNC Hazards Center and the Oil Spill

The UNC Hazards Center is part of several groups at the center of the response to what is now most commonly known as the BP oil spill.

Oil Spill Webinar
On April 22, 2010, an explosion at the Deepwater Horizon Oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico caused the death of 11 crewmen, and began what may end up being the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history.
On May 12, 2010, the Department of Homeland Security, Center of Excellence – Natural Disasters, Coastal Infrastructure and Emergency Management (DIEM) held a Webinar that with UNC Hazards Center members and guests to discuss recent developments and share information about response to the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill.

Beginning the call was the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Todd Davison, Director of the NOAA Gulf Coast Service Center. Davison gave an overview of NOAA’s response to the crisis. As the nation’s leading scientific resource for oil spills, NOAA has been on the scene of the spill from the start, and maintains a constantly updated website with the latest news on NOAA’s response to the spill, as well as links to additional information and resources at http://response.restoration.noaa.gov/deepwaterhorizon.

Next on the call were Drs. Stephen Barnes and Dek Terrell of the EJ Ourso College of Business at Louisiana State University. They discussed the economic impacts of the oil spill. Their research is being provided to the Louisiana Governor’s Office and Louisiana Economic Development.

Sharing the sociological and policy dimensions of the spill, Dr. Thomas Birkland of the School of Public and International Affairs at North Carolina State University discussed his research on implementation of the Oil Pollution Act since the 1990s, the effects of splitting the Minerals Management Service into two agencies and media
coverage of the spill as compared to that of the Santa Barbara and Exxon
Valdez spills.

How the Spill May Spread
Rick Luettich, Director of both the UNC Hazards Center and DIEM, is investigating how the oil may be transported in prevailing currents from the Gulf of Mexico up the Atlantic Seaboard. The 3-D models under development by Luettich and his colleagues are key to forecasting how the oil may spread in environmentally sensitive areas by detailing what happens when oil interacts with marshes, vegetation and currents.
According to Luettich, the new models have the potential “to advise and undergird many emergency …model image management decisions that may be made along the way, particularly if a hurricane comes through the area.”

Stay tuned to the DIEM website for more information: http://hazardscenter.unc.edu/diem/