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.

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

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

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

– To 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.

– Along 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. 

– Dave 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

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

– To 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.

– Five 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.

– Winds 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. dan

    I thought we had subsurface safety valves incase something like this happened. Of course they are probably too much trouble to install or they may cost a few thousand dollars and we wouldn't want to cut into the oil companies profits!

    April 30, 2010 at 2:27 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  2. concerned voter

    I do bike to work, but it is getting harder and harder to go shopping in one's neigbhorhood, get fresh produce etc...which is not infected with ecoli from mexico and big ag contaminted meat etc. from walmart and cheap junk from china ruining quality of life, and forcing more and more to have to drive to store, there is no 'neighborhood' anywhere anymore, unless it is a 'fake' planned one...like a 'traditional neighborhood community' there is no quality of life, and yes one blogger is correct that, if someobdy is driving suv etc...and complaining about oil spill, they are indeed hypocrite, but these same indiv. wouldn't even know what the heck you are talking about and it would just go in one ear and out the other...yee haw....and yes bush's unlimited support and repeal of envir. protections, cutting budgets as he ensured tax cuts for rich DURING two wars is GOP and bush's fault....how can you say it is otherwise???? go back to your tea party.

    April 30, 2010 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Dan, TX

    It is odd to hear people say the Obama adminstration is slow. I don't think they have been slow to respond. The oil leak was only just recently found to be larger than originally reported. The Federal government has been doing what it can since the moment of the explosion was reported. This is not a conservative vs. liberal issue! How about some common sense? BP surely didn't want this to happen. Something terribly wrong happened. We have to fix this as soon as possible, but the US government can't snap its fingers and stop the leak. BP is by far better equipped than the NAVY to fix the leak.

    Stop blaming people, and try helping to solve the problem, not exacerbate it by blaming republicans or democrats, neither is to blame. Hundreds, maybe thousands of residents will be permanently sickened by the inhalation of the volatiles released. That is the price they pay for reaping the rewards of the oil economy. Same as the people in Pennsylvania who have natural gas bubbling up in their drinking water because of natural gas extraction techniques. They die, so we can have energy. We have to understand that human life has a definite monetary value. We all understand that, even if we don't admit it.

    April 30, 2010 at 2:29 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Leo

    The bottom line folks is we have a spill of biblical proportions that will prove to be nearly impossible to stop for a long time. I am wondering what you really think the goverment can do to stop it? The experts are doing everything they can think of. The whole thought of this sickens me but I am a realist and understand that there is probably lots of blame to throw around but that is not going to stop the flow. Oil is like blood to us, without it our cushy life style is down the drain.

    April 30, 2010 at 2:30 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  5. JBL

    Lucas Jackson is right. All we need is more governmental interference. I live in Pensacola, FL. My family is coming down in a week for vacation. The truth is that this is an extremely unusual case. We still need to drill though. I agree that safety precautions were not enough. I agree that this is going to be terrible for the Gulf as well as for me personally (I LOVE THE BEACH & WILDLIFE). We should be careful with God's creation. But, we don't stop electing presidents just because Obama is in office! Why should we stop drilling. We learn from mistakes by not giving up something that is good at its roots. Edison didn't give up at the making a light bulb just because he failed a thousand times. Human error happens.

    April 30, 2010 at 2:31 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Sean Moffett

    Obama and his bumbling administration are stupid... Do they really think they can "Shock and Awe" the oil spill into submission with the help of George Bush's lefover Secretary of Defense? The new administration is looking as dumb as the old one and with the same Secretary of Defense... This entire fiasco is a little fishy... I'm starting to be swayed to the theory of bank sponsored terrorism or a new red shirt player in the world of terrorism. It's looking more and more like the Gulf of Tonkin in the Gulk of Mexico... Now SWAT and DHS is involved... Mighty fishy...

    April 30, 2010 at 2:32 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Eli

    Hey I have a great idea! lets ban flying. all those people working for the airlines are probably working under awful conditions anyway, so I'm sure they would be happy to be out of a job. meanwhile we would be saving the planet by cutting down considerably on greenhouse gasses emitted by burning carbon sources in their engines. While we're at it, no one should be permitted to drive a car, since that too leads to gasoline consumption and may encourage further offshore drilling, which as we clearly see, it going to end the world by hurting some of the wildlife off the shore in the gulf coast. Everyone should be required instead to ride bikes, walk, or use a horse and buggy. I mean seriously folks, the Amish manage, so why not the rest of us? Production of ovens and stoves that run on fuels derived from damaging fuel sources should also be banned. All those poor proletariat who are employed under such awful conditions will be relieved not to have to go to work anymore in the factories where such ovens, cars etc are produced. Finally, we should ban electricity, since it requires coal, which both damages the landscape, and employs way too many people in dangerous working conditions. With all these advances, corporate farming will become impossible, so all corporate farms will, by necessity, be divided up and every family who responded to the US census will be granted a portion they can reasonably be expected to farm under the new conditions. those who are now unemployed will be re-employed in beeswax candle factories, and anyone who dares protest, or is caught utilizing bourgeois technology, will be shot (including those who applaud environmentalism while flying their private jets.)

    April 30, 2010 at 2:32 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  8. AnyIdeas?

    Wow, some of these comments, or attacks I should say, amazing-and not much on the side of helpful ideas. Most of these comments look like venting, but are not anything helpful or hopeful. Come on, we can do better than just gripe can't we? (I hope I didn't spell anything wrong!)

    April 30, 2010 at 2:35 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Sean Moffett

    Don't you have a book to carry by foot to Alcatraz Eli? Sounds like the blueprint for tyranny the environmentalists would like to implement though if they had their way.

    April 30, 2010 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Capt. Jim S.

    As a charter captain on Florida's west coast, my heart goes out to all of the people of Louisiana, Alabama, and the Florida Panhandle's coastal regions. This is a very dire situation for all.
    Is it really worth the very small chance of lowering fuel prices by a minute fraction and risk the income of hundreds of thousands of hard working Gulf Coast Natives , not to mention the devestating environmental impact of millions of acres of prescious wetlands? Good luck and God bless.

    April 30, 2010 at 2:38 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  11. bill

    Wait a minute!, "A number of Organizations are recruiting volunteers" to help with the oil spill.

    Something wrong with this picture. BP should be paying these people it's their mess. Geez!!! what's wrong with us.

    April 30, 2010 at 2:38 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Thomas Cook

    The story that CNN posted yesterday which breifly described what caused this oil spill stated that there was an explosion on a "DRILLING RIG" which then somehow caused an existing oil well to spring a leak. I would like CNN to clearify this. Was the platform that had the explosion actually a drilling rig? or was it a non drilling platform that was somehow connected to the existing oil well? If it was infact a drilling rig then why was a drilling rig on top of an existing oil rig? And why does CNN report news such as Barack Obama's energy plan involves opening up offshore drilling, or report that Sara Palin is in favor of offshore drilling and now the public comes to find out that oil companies are already engaged in offshore drilling?

    April 30, 2010 at 2:39 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  13. FROM THE 3RD COAST

    I have a suggestion for everyone who posted a comment and everyone who reads this: Get your fat ass up and start walking. This dependence on oil is no ones fault but our own.

    April 30, 2010 at 2:39 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Maryann Rose - Orlando FL

    Ok, for everyone who is still in favor of offshore drilling, you do realize that this is not just another accident, right? 11 people were killed – AND....

    The fishing industry and tourism industry will both be devistated by this. Not to mention the wetlands being destroyed even further, and the balance of our ecosystem and food chain is at a huge risk.

    Is it worth it?

    I'm hoping that this terrible accident will accellerate America's quest for wind, solar and hydroelectric power. We are Americans – we are supposed to be the innovators and problem-solvers. What happened?

    BTW – for those of you who are spouting off about Middle East countries suppying our oil, here is where most of our oil comes from:

    1. Canada
    2. Mexico
    3. Venezuela
    4. Nigeria
    5. Saudi Arabia

    April 30, 2010 at 2:40 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Larry L

    JACK49 your comment amuses me. You found a way to mention the moronic comment about the President's birth certificate AND ironically misspell the word "genius". I might point out the fact that the Navy is engaged in the War and FEMA has mobilized it's action cells.

    April 30, 2010 at 2:41 pm | Report abuse | Reply
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