NOAA Awards Contract for Gulf of Mexico Disaster Response Center

September 23, 2009

Rendering of NOAA’s Gulf of Mexico Disaster Response Center.

Rendering of NOAA’s Gulf of Mexico Disaster Response Center.

High resolution (Credit: NOAA)

NOAA announced a $4.4 million award to Complete Building Corporation from Charleston, S.C. for construction of NOAA’s Gulf of Mexico Disaster Response Center in Mobile, Ala. The facility will be the regional home to the agency’s Office of Response and Restoration — the NOAA organization charged with responding to oil spills, hazardous material releases, and marine debris.

Construction is scheduled to begin later this year with completion of the project in spring 2011. The 15,000-square foot facility housing up to 25 personnel will be constructed to withstand a major hurricane. NOAA acquired the site through a long-term, no-cost ground lease with Mobile County.

“More than 20 million people living in Gulf coastal areas are vulnerable to natural disasters such as hurricanes and the resulting oil spills, hazardous materials incidents and marine debris that have devastating effects on coastal economies,” said John H. Dunnigan, assistant administrator for NOAA’s National Ocean Service. “This center’s support for disaster planning, response, and recovery efforts in the region will provide services that will enhance the resilience of coastal communities, economies, and ecosystems to these and other hazards.”

During Hurricane Katrina NOAA’s Office of Response and Restoration assisted the Coast Guard, EPA, and the Gulf coast states with nearly 400 reported releases of hazardous materials and 16 significant pollution spills. The office also conducted offshore flights to identify and document offshore sources of spilled oil and prepared guidance to help minimize physical injury to shoreline habitats during vessel salvage.

“We learned during Hurricane Katrina that coordination between agencies and across every level of government is critical,” said U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby.  “NOAA will be able to consolidate its Gulf Region disaster efforts under one roof and better address the needs of affected communities following a disaster.”

NOAA’s Office of Response and Restoration is a federal leader in preparedness, response, damage assessment, and restoration for oil spills, chemical spills, and hazardous waste sites. As a natural resource trustee, OR&R’s mission is to minimize harm to the environment during an incident response, and protect and restore coastal ecosystems. OR&R works with federal, state, local, and tribal agencies to develop best practices and decision making tools for cleanup and assessment of oil spills and hazardous waste sites.

NOAA understands and predicts changes in the Earth’s environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and conserves and manages our coastal and marine resources.