Got Oil Spill? Get Free Cleanup Help from BP

If the oil spill is sloshing onto your property, BP and state agencies offer cleanup help for free.

Clean Harbors is one organization participating in the environmental cleanup efforts in the Gulf. Image: © BP p.l.c.

Gunk washed up on your property from the Gulf oil spill can hurt your property’s value. Here’s how to get free oil-spill cleanup help, pronto.

Call BP’s oil spill hotline at 866-448-5816. You should receive a response to your call within 1 to 2 hours. (Although BP is paying for onshore cleanup, assistance is being coordinated by the federal government’s Houma Incident Command in Louisiana.)

States affected by the oil spill also provide information and additional reporting numbers on these web sites:

Expect a visit from the oil spill authorities

The coordinating state agency will send an assessment team to examine your property. If they confirm the presence of oil, the state will send an oil spill cleanup crew.

How soon the crew arrives varies, depending on the amount and location of the oil, but they usually come within a day or two, according to the Florida Emergency Operations Center’s State Watch Office.

Tempted to take oil spill cleanup into your own hands?

Representatives from the Deepwater Horizon Central Command Center advise against trying to clean up oil on your property yourself. Exposure, even in small amounts, can be toxic, says Robert E. Nesbit, program manager of the OSHA Training Institute Education Center at the University of South Florida. He recommends letting experts handle the dirty work.

But Cumaraswamy Vipulanandan, P.E., who studies oil spill cleanup in his role as head of the CIGMAT Center at the University of Houston, believes homeowners can tackle some cleanup tasks if they take the right precautions.

According to Vipulanandan, most of the heavier components of spilled oil sink to the sea floor, leaving you to clean up a substance much like the motor oil you put in your car. If you’re tempted to handle it, make sure to follow safety guidelines.