From Green Right Now Reports

With the elections nearing, fall weather setting in and the holidays soon to follow, that BP oil spill horror is receding in the public’s rear view mirror.

Billy Maher, a Louisiana DWF biologist releases one of 32 rescued sea turtles 50 miles south of Grand Isle, La., Oct. 21 (Photo: U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer 2nd Class Rob Simpson.)

But the U.S. government remains doggedly committed to the clean-up, according to Rear Admiral Paul Zukunft, who updated a handful of reporters today.

Here’s the scoop, by the numbers.

  • 11,200 people remain engaged in the oil spill response across the Gulf of Mexico. That’s down a lot compared to the 48,000 who responded at the peak of the disaster, but remains more than those who worked recovery at the peak of the Exxon Valdez oil spill.
  • 577 miles of oiled shoreline continues to be scrutinized for clean up, and is the subject of clean ups. Few beaches are contaminated with heavy oil, but tar balls do roll in and some surface during high winds. Beaches all along the Gulf crescent, from Mississippi to the Florida Panhandle continue to see some erosion and surfacing of oil, as well as some collection of tarballs.
  • 1,800 people are working to clean up Mississippi’s Barrier Islands, weather permitting.
  • 7,000 square miles of federal waters were recently re-opened to fishing.
  • 9,000 square miles of federal waters remain closed to fishing. At the peak of the disaster, 88,000 square miles were closed to fishing activities.
  • 12 vessels continue to sample the closed waters
  • 420 “sentinel snares” are looking for oil contamination in difficult to reach, delicate tidal areas. Sampling continues beneath the sea, as well, looking for sediment in the water columns.
  • 37 days — the time since the last significant oil was found in waters near shore.

The latest major siting of what appeared to be a possible remnant oil patch is likely a “historic” algal bloom in an area where the Mississippi dumps water filled with fertilizer run off into the Gulf of Mexico.

The remaining trio of vessels that remain at the plugged oil well site are working on “plug and abandonment” activities related to securing equipment and cleaning the hulls of the ships, Zukunft said.