NOAA Administrator and Regional Partners Break Ground on Gulf of Mexico Disaster Response Center

January 22, 2010

Rendering of new Gulf of Mexico Disaster Response Center. 

Rendering of NOAA's new Gulf of Mexico Disaster Response Center. 

High resolution (Credit: NOAA)

NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco was on hand today to mark the start of construction on NOAA’s Gulf of Mexico Disaster Response Center in Mobile, Ala. The facility will be the regional home to a multi-functional collection of NOAA’s emergency preparedness, response, restoration, and recovery assets and personnel in the Gulf of Mexico.

“Twenty million people living in the Gulf of Mexico’s coastal communities face a number of environmental and economic challenges, ranging from hurricanes and the potential for resulting oil spills to coastal habitat loss and climate change threats,” said Jane Lubchenco, Ph.D., under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. “To balance competing demands on coastal resources, decision makers need the science, information and decision support tools that NOAA provides.”

Rendering of new Gulf of Mexico Disaster Response Center. 

Rendering of NOAA's new Gulf of Mexico Disaster Response Center. 

High resolution (Credit: NOAA)

The 15,000-square-foot facility will be constructed to withstand a major hurricane and devoted to conserving energy, water and natural resources while reducing impacts on human health and the environment. NOAA acquired the site through a long-term ground lease with Mobile County. A construction contract was awarded in September 2009 to Complete Building Corporation from Charleston, S.C. The building is expected to open in spring 2011.

“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 in one location and better address the needs of affected communities following a disaster.”

During Hurricane Katrina in 2005, NOAA’s Office of Response and Restoration assisted the U.S. Coast Guard, Environmental Protection Agency, 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 sources of spilled oil and helped minimize damage to shoreline habitats during vessel salvage operations.

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. Working with federal, state, local and tribal agencies, its mission is to minimize harm to the environment when responding to an incident 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.