Saturday, September 10, 2005

Coast Guard ops shifting from rescue

Pollution from Katrina
Originally uploaded by Tidewater Muse.
VENICE, La. (Sept. 9, 2005) - Petty Officer 3rd Class Jason Spence of Coast Guard Sector New Orleans and Petty Officer 1st Class Marc San Filippo of the Coast Guard Pacific Strike Team from Novato, Calif. assess an oil spill at the Bass Oil Facility here today.

Bass Enterprises reported approximately 81,000 barrels of oil from two storage tanks were discharged into the secondary containment system surrounding the tanks. Preliminary tests indicate substantially all of the oil is contained within the secondary containment levee and approximately 7,500 barrels are still in the tanks. Pollution response equipment and responders are on scene and are transferring the oil in the containment system to a barge and have deployed boom to contain a visible sheen on the river. No sheen is visible beyond the booms.

The total environmental impact of the damage caused by Hurricane Katrina is currently being evaluated by the Coast Guard and other agencies.

U.S. Coast Guard photograph by Petty Officer 3rd Class Robert M. Reed.

The Coast Guard's operations are shifting away from "rescue" now. We seem to have a couple of operations going on. One all of us Coasties would expect is pollution response. Another is getting the waterways back in shape; that would be the ATON mission.

A third, and perhaps more public, mission is saving the President's bacon and the bacon of the Secretary of Homeland Security. Yup. We may not be political in nature -- and I don't think we have a single political appointee in the entire organization -- but we are in the midst of saving some political bacon.

From The New London Day,
There's been much anger and recrimination about shortcomings of the relief efforts after Hurricane Katrina, much of it justified.

But no one has anything but praise for the relentless and heroic work of the U.S. Coast Guard, which, amidst the confusion of agencies at various levels of government, has quietly gone about doing what it does best: Rescue people who need help....

The Coast Guard has much to be proud of in the wake of this disaster. It hasn't taken time to think about its role much, of course, since it isn't finished helping the area and won't be for quite awhile. But it deserves the thanks of the many thousands rescued and the gratitude of the American people, who can always depend upon the service to be there when the need is greatest.
From the Toledo Blade,
Acknowledging for the first time that Katrina “will go down as the largest natural disaster in American history,” Mr. Chertoff appointed Coast Guard Vice Adm. Thad Allen, who has been overseeing Coast Guard search- and-rescue missions, to be the principal federal official overseeing the federal response.
From the AP, as posted in the Cleveland Plain Dealer,
The Coast Guard has saved a lot of people at sea, so maybe it makes sense for the Bush administration to turn to a Coast Guard admiral to rescue its response to Hurricane Katrina.

Coming aboard to the assignment is Coast Guard Vice Adm. Thad W. Allen, 56, who only on Monday had been named Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff's special deputy for hurricane recovery efforts. He was already leading the rescue and recovery efforts in New Orleans.
The article goes on to say,
Brown had been the target of blistering, unceasing and often bipartisan criticism for FEMA's response to the worst natural disaster in U.S. history. He had previously worked for more than a decade running the International Arabian Horse Association. He had no background in disaster relief before the former FEMA director, Joe Allbaugh, an old friend, brought him on board as the agency's general counsel in 2001.

In contrast, Allen actually rescued people from storms early in his Coast Guard career. Later, he headed Coast Guard operations in the Southeast United States and the Caribbean, where he was responsible for 15,000 search-and-rescue missions.

Chertoff tapped Allen, the Coast Guard's third in command, to be the principal federal official overseeing the response and recovery effort.
And from an Op-Ed piece in the Detroit Free Press:
Allen's Coast Guard background should assure that the environmental impact of Katrina is not ignored. Coast Guard responsibilities include environmental protection, and he ought to be raising questions about where all that contaminated water being pumped out of New Orleans is going. It could end up fouling Lake Pontchartrain, the Mississippi River and the entire Gulf Coast for years.
So, there we are: back to pollution.

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