April 30th, 2010
09:14 PM ET

Gulf Coast residents brace for potential calamity

Officials anticipate that oil floating toward Louisiana is likely to reach land sometime Friday.

(Update 9:13 p.m.) EPA administrator Lisa Jackson said Friday there is a chance that workers will be able to stop the flow of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, but warned that the EPA is preparing for the worst.

"There is still the opportunity and the possibility that they would be able to shut it down," Jackson told CNN Chief National Correspondent John King. "Of course as responders we have to look at the worst case, and keep planning for that."

Jackson's comments come as the federal government is ramping up the pressure on BP to do more to stop well leaks gushing thousands of barrels of oil into waters off Louisiana. The government is also pushing BP to beef up its response as a giant oil slick approaches the Louisiana coast.

In the interview on CNN's John King USA that aired Friday, Jackson responded to questions about the level of trust the Obama administration had in BP immediately following the April 20 oil rig explosion that also resulted in 11 presumed deaths.

"I don't think it was ever a question of trust in the company, I think it was a question of responding to the set of facts as we came to understand them," Jackson said. "The situation has certainly worsened. It began as a human tragedy, it is now what I think is an environmental challenge of the highest order."

(Update 7:42 p.m.) Sen. David Vitter announced the closure of several oyster beds in eastern Louisiana, but kept the western parts open, CNN affiliate WDSU reports.

The director for Rouses Supermarket, which has stores across the Gulf Coast, including southern Louisiana and Mississippi, said all seafood on the shelves is safe, according to WDSU.

"Everything that is coming into the markets and restaurants is coming from the west part of the Mississippi River," Seafood Director James Bruel told WDSU.

"Everything we get is traceable. Anything that comes through our back doors has an invoice of where it came from. Everything right now is 100 percent safe to eat," he said.

(Update 6:48 p.m.) U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has approved Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal's request to mobilize 6,000 National Guard troops in response to the massive oil spill expanding in the Gulf of Mexico, according to a Defense Department spokesman.

(Update 5:25 p.m.) The federal government is heightening the pressure on BP, pushing the oil company to do more to stop well leaks gushing thousands of barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico and to beef up its response to the potential environmental impact on the coast.

"We'll continue to urge BP to leverage additional assets," U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano told reporters Friday as the massive oil slick approached the Louisiana coast. "It is time for BP to supplement their current mobilization as the slick of oil moves toward shore."

BP, which owns the ruptured well, said officials expect oil to reach land sometime Friday, with Venice and Port Fourchon the first places likely to be affected.

Doug Suttles, chief operating officer of BP, said the company has had only three priorities since the April 20 rig explosion that led to the oil spill: stop the flow of oil, minimize its impact and keep the public informed.

"We've so far mounted the largest response effort ever done in the world," Suttles said at the same news conference. "We've utilized every technology available, we've applied every resource request. ... We welcome every new idea and every offer of support."

(Update 3:47 p.m.) U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has ordered inspections of all deep-water operations in Gulf of Mexico.

The Department of Interior will also establish a new Outer Continental Shelf Safety Board to conduct a review of offshore drilling practices and safety issues and tighten the oversight of equipment testing, he said.

(Update 3:41 p.m.)  The American Bird Conservancy, the nation's leading bird conservation organization, released a list of key bird sites they say are most immediately threatened by the ongoing Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf.

They are: the Gulf Coast Least Tern Colony; the Lower Pascagoula River – including the Pascagoula River Coastal Preserve; the Gulf Islands National Seashore; Breton National Wildlife Refuge – including the Chandeleur Islands; Dauphin Island; Fort Morgan Historical Park; Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge; Eglin Air Force Base; Delta National Wildlife Refuge; and Baptiste Collette Bird Islands.

(Update 2:20 p.m.) A roundup of some of the latest developments:

– More than 217,000 feet of boom, or barrier, is assigned to contain the spill. An additional 305,760 feet is available.

– 139,459 gallons of dispersant have been deployed and an additional 51,000 gallons are available.

– Gov. Bob Riley of Alabama met with members of his Cabinet to give them the latest information on the oil slick in the gulf and to tell them to reach out to citizens and businesses that could be affected.

РBiloxi Mayor A.J. Holloway discussed oil-spill preparations with key  department heads and will ask the City Council to declare a state of emergency.

РTwo Air Force Reserve C-130s from 910th Airlift Wing out of Youngstown  Ohio have arrived at Stennis Airfield in Hancock County Mississippi to help.  

РBP has set up a "Vessel of Opportunity" program for vessel owners to  offer their services to assist with response efforts.

РTo supplement its Houma, Louisiana incident command post, BP is now establishing a similar onshore incident command post in Mobile, Alabama to  oversee the onshore response in Mississippi, Alabama and Florida.

(Update 2:12 p.m.) A number of organizations are recruiting volunteers to help with the effects of the oil spill. Here’s how you can help.

(Update 1:31 p.m.)  Attorney General Eric Holder is sending a team of Justice Department attorneys to the Gulf Coast to meet with federal prosecutors and response teams, the Justice Department said in a statement released Friday.

"The Justice Department stands ready to make available every resource at our disposal to vigorously enforce the laws that protect the people who work and reside near the Gulf, the wildlife, the environment and the American taxpayers," the statement said.

(Update 1:10 p.m.) The oil spill could threaten hundreds of species of wildlife, some in their prime breeding season, environmental organizations said.

"The terrible loss of 11 workers (unaccounted for after the rig explosion) may be just the beginning of this tragedy as the oil slick spreads toward sensitive coastal areas vital to birds and marine life and to all the communities that depend on them," said Melanie Driscoll, director of bird conservation for the Louisiana Coastal Initiative, in a statement.

(Update 12:57 p.m.) Track the oil spill with this map and tell us how it is affecting you.

(Update 11:58 a.m.) President Barack Obama is ordering Interior Secretary Ken Salazar "to conduct a thorough review" of the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon rig and subsequent oil spill.

He said domestic oil production continues to be "an important part of our overall strategy" but said "it must be done responsibly for the safety of our workers and our environment." 

(Update 11:54 a.m) Florida Gov. Charlie Crist has declared a state of emergency in the Panhandle coastal counties of Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, Walton, Bay, and Gulf.

Officials anticipate that oil floating toward Louisiana is likely to reach land sometime Friday, with Venice and Port Fourchon, being the first places affected, said BP spokesman Mike Abendhoff.

Officials monitoring the Gulf oil spill have not yet confirmed reports that oil reached land in the morning hours. Full story

A roundup of other developments:

–¬†Louisiana's Gov. Bobby Jindal has declared a state of emergency and asked the Defense Department to approve funding for the deployment of 6,000 National Guard troops.

РAlong the Gulf coast business owners are concerned about the potential impact on the bottom line. The oil slick coming ashore "would put us out of business," fisherman Rene Cross in Venice, Louisiana, told CNN affiliate WDSU. 

РDave Rauschkolb who owns three restaurants on the Florida Panhandle says: "We are a seasonal economy.  If I don't have my summer business, I am out of business." Full story

Here are highlights from the latest briefing Friday by the Joint Information Center, which is coordinating response to the oil spill.

– Nearly 2,000 personnel are involved in the response

РMore than 217,000 feet of boom assigned to contain the spill.  An additional 305,760 feet is available.

РTo date, the oil spill response team has recovered 20,313 barrels (853,146 gallons) of an oil-water mix. 

– 75 response vessels are being used including skimmers, tugs, barges and recovery vessels.

РFive staging areas are in place and ready to protect sensitive shorelines: Mississippi; Pensacola, Florida; Venice, Louisiana; Pascagoula, Mississippi; and Theodore, Alabama. A sixth staging area is being set up in Port Sulphur, Louisiana.

РWinds on Friday are from the southeast at 20 knots Seas are 5- to 7- feet, with slight chance of afternoon showers.

soundoff (463 Responses)
  1. John from Dallas

    (Update 6:48 p.m.) U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has approved Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer's request to mobilize 6,000 National Guard troops in response to the massive illegal immigration ongoing along the Mexican border, according to a Defense Department spokesman. One could only wish.

    May 2, 2010 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Curt

    President Obama just said on CNN that this is potentially the most disastrous oil spills ever. I guess it could be, but the President is engaging in politics. The EXXON Valedeez oil spill was 11 million barrels. This spill is just about 2 millions barrels. I guess we wouldn't want a disaster to go by without seizing upon it for political gain. Would we. Mr. President?

    May 2, 2010 at 4:36 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Marie J.

    I'm with Terry Vann on this one. My dad told me the same thing about the democrats and the Republicans.The problem with that, unfortunatley, is that my dad and myself might be concidered "idealists", as opposed to "realists". We live our lives working hard and living by a belief and value system, thinking , evryone will succeed and have a better life. Unfortunately, a "realistic" view, which takes the reality of "moral hazzard" into perspective, is probably the "road most traveled". The Republicans have systematicly deregulated everything. Regulation is for the common good, deregulation is for the good of "a certain few". That is why our middle class is disappearing.The banks, insurance companys and all our indusrties, including the oil companys have been allowed to 'have it there way".Dick Cheany played a big part in changing the rules for the oil industry. Him and Halliburton were joined at the hip, and by the way,I haven't read anything hear about Halliburton being the company that cemented the well bottom just twenty hours before it blew, which has been a factor in other "blowouts".

    May 2, 2010 at 8:39 pm | Report abuse |
  4. EnvE

    I lived in Lafayette, LA for several years and spent a lot of time Venice. The scale of the devestation this spill is capable of is beyond what most people can begin to imagine. The Mississippi River Delta is one of the most unique places that I have had the pleasure of spending time in and holds a special place in my heart, as does the rest of the state of Louisiana. In no way do I consider myself a "Tea Partier" but I call myself a Republican because I tend to agree more with their policies. That being said I would like to say a few things.

    1. It is "imbecile."
    2. Drilling was already complete at this well, otherwise Halliburton would not have been cementing the casing. Halliburton will probably end up having to pay for a lot of the clean up since it was there cement processes that became unbalanced and allowed the well to blow out.
    3. Someone (BP, Halliburton, Transocean), other than US Taxpayers will be paying for this, that is the entire point of the legislation that followed the Exxon Valdez spill.
    4. 1 Barrel = 42 gallons, you do the math.
    5. Blowing the well is the dumbest thing I have even heard of, you are talking about 10,000+ PSI, all you would do is allow the well to free flow into the GOM.
    6. At least in this point in time, Greener does not equal Cheaper, period.
    7. Algae, though a potentially perfect fuel source, is no where near feasible enough to go large scale.
    8. Sawdust may be environmentally friendly, but sawdust covered/filled with crude oil IS NOT.
    9. IF I did not know any better (which I do), and I did say IF, this was an act of terrorism, it was most likely a case of domestic terrorism (i.e. ELF, liberal government trying to stop additional off-shore drilling)
    10. "Volunteers" don't get paid, that is the definition of "volunteer."
    11. There is this thing called the Gulf Stream. Florida Gulf side won't get any of the oil, barring certain wind conditions, but the entire east coast will.
    12. To post 242, do you have any idea of the energy requirements to desalinate? RO technologies are getting better, but the energy required to treat enough to provide desalinated water for irrigation would be absolutely ridiculous. Definitely more than solar or wind could ever provide.
    13. Several people have mentioned Nuclear power, which I believe is probably the best alternative to Coal at the moment, but trust me there are many more opponents to nuclear power than there is oil. Why do you think it hasn't been expanded in recent times? Not to mention what are you going to do with the waste materail when it is next to impossible to find a place where the community will allow it, let alone getting the facility permitted. PS, the salt domes in southern LA would be a perfect spot for nuclear waste, but no one will allow it to happen.
    14. Natural Gas, buy it.

    May 3, 2010 at 12:56 pm | Report abuse |
  5. EnvE

    Forgot to mention that this is going to be the worst environmental/industrial disaster...ever.

    Signing off.

    May 3, 2010 at 12:58 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Adrian Fedorus

    What is the oil company doing??!!! This frustrates and infuriates myself and my community! What was the oil company thinking? They took no extra precautions that could have prevented this disaster, but no, and look what's happened now! BP has practically destroyed all of Earth's oceans. It doesn't matter that it happened in one ocean....It will affect all of them; hello! The oceans all connect to one another. This leak is tremendous, and it will take forever to clean up! What will happen in the mean time? Think about it; animals will die, species will go extinct, and our world will basically be one great big, giant oil spill! The people who created this spill may die in 30, 35 years, but we, the next generation have to live in this polluted world!

    I may only be thirteen but I care about this world; it is the only one we will ever have. Why won't the oil company's understand this and take more precautions? Is it really too much to ask?

    May 3, 2010 at 8:53 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Katie

    Does anyone know how far away the oil rig was from the shore?

    June 2, 2010 at 5:50 pm | Report abuse |
  8. croman

    Will their be a back-up plan in place for the mass exodus of people leaving the Southern States, in order to excape
    with their lives when the Methane Gas explodes in the Gulf/resulting into the largest Su- nami ever on the planet???

    July 22, 2010 at 6:24 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Contact Paper

    stainless kitchen sinks serves me better and they are stain resistant too .""

    November 16, 2010 at 4:36 pm | Report abuse |
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