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Begich Tours Gulf Cleanup & Containment Operations

Meets with Alaskans working on efforts in Louisiana

With knowledge that the long-term impacts of a major oil spill last well beyond the time the leak is plugged and media attention has turned away, U.S. Sen. Mark Begich spent much of this past weekend touring cleanup and containment efforts following the oil spill tragedy in the Gulf of Mexico. Begich toured several operations by land and air in order to get a better look at what is happening on the ground three months after the blowout that killed 11 workers.

"Alaskans know better than anyone the effects of a major oil spill will be felt for decades to come, and while the Deepwater Horizon appears to be plugged, we need to remain vigilant to address the long-term effects of this spill," Begich said after the tour. "It was very informative to be briefed by incident commanders on the current situation and deployment of resources, and meeting many Alaskans who are taking part in the response."

Begich's visit started in New Orleans Sunday with a briefing from Coast Guard Rear Admiral John Korn, the deputy commander at the Unified Area Command (UAC), and Stephen Lehmann of NOAA's Emergency Response Division. The two gave an overview of the entire federal response.

Following the briefing, Begich was flown by a team from the Louisiana Army National Guard in a UH-60 Blackhawk over Barataria Bay and Grand Isle, Louisiana to see the extensive booming, skimming and beach cleanup operations. The tour then stopped at the Incident Command Post in Houma which still has over 1,200 response workers including a number of Alaskans who met with Begich.

"It was great to see and talk to some of the Alaskans working on this cleanup. Their knowledge of oil spill cleanup and long-term impacts, along with the commitment to get it done right, is incredibly valuable," Begich added.

Other highlights of the trip included information on NOAA's on-scene meteorologists who were keeping track of two developing tropical storms; geographic information centers which keep track of what shoreline and coastal habitats are impacted; and meeting with community liaison officers who help coordinate with local responders and incorporate local knowledge into the response.

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