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. Pepe Marino

    I wonder if this event could change live as we know it, because the spill is so massive and it could be there for months! I think that this event is bigger than they can even imagine! IT is very sad to see, specially when we know that this is happening due to our increasing appetite for oil.

    April 30, 2010 at 3:13 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Greg, Ontario

    Come on, give us all a break America. Stop acting like you give a dam about the Gulf ecosystem. Everyone knows you don't or you wouldn't be such a bunch of Oil addicts. The whole world could drop dead as long as you have gas for your tanks. Short minded morons, yes I'm better than you, I use a bicycle, walk or at most public transit for the simple reason of doing my bit to protect the environment. I know a lot of Americans and none of them can say they honestly give a rats behind about the environment. Why we have anything to do with you is beyond me.

    April 30, 2010 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
  3. John

    'kill baby kill'...gulf wildlife

    April 30, 2010 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Sean Moffett

    Good information Qwark... I bet the administration has been too arrogant to speak to knowledgeable people in the industry like yourself...

    April 30, 2010 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
  5. J.L.M.

    This is a tremendous disaster. With complications we can only imagine. Pointing fingers will accomplish nothing. I do, however, understand the venting taking place in this blog. As I find myself pulled in many directions about this situation I agree that there are massive ecological issues we will be dealing with, and possibly for many years to come. i also agree that without these sources of energy this country wait, the world would still be living in ancient times. We need these sources of energy and we will need new technologies as they become available. As Americans, lets pull together and help our own. The price of fuel may rise, the price of seafood will rise, but what about the many, many people that will suffer economical consequences because of this catastrophe. We help others in other countries, can we not help them?

    April 30, 2010 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Tex

    Ban drilling and mining – let them all freeze in the dark.

    April 30, 2010 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Sean Moffett

    Qwark, I think the administration is trying to Shock and Awe campaign with the military jets first to bomb the oil spill into submission first instead of a more effective solution... It's sort of the same strategy the administration uses to fight terrorism in Iraq and Afghanistan... Bomb innocent citizens without getting to the source of terrorism... I do believe this oil rig event is state sponsored or banker terrorism. How explosive is an oil well??? Seems like C4 was used... Don't they vent and burn off the natural gas above the platform?

    April 30, 2010 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse |
  8. JC

    GREG IN ONTARIO(CANADA)- MUST BE CANADA with that Attitude

    It just thawed up there– do you have dogs for that bIKE???

    EHY??

    April 30, 2010 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Beachline

    Make BP pay for all costs incurred trying to clean up this mess. The volunteers who are rescuing shore birds and marine life using their own private boats should bill BP. Don't let BP hide behind lawyers like Exxon is doing.

    April 30, 2010 at 3:23 pm | Report abuse |
  10. MAC G.

    I WOULD LIKE TO EXPRESS MY SORROW FOR THE LOSS OF THE ELEVEN LIVES THAT THIS "ACCIDENT" HAS CAUSED. THIS IS ONLY THE BEGINNING. I DON'T THINK MOST OF US HAVE ANY IDEA HOW DAMAGING THIS IS GOING TO BE. IT PUTS THE MOST SICKENING FEELING I'VE EVER EXPERIENCED IN THE PIT OF MY STOMACH!!
    GOD BLESS US ALL.

    April 30, 2010 at 3:23 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Aaron

    Why have these idiots not twisted this story and placed the blame on terriost activity (this would have been a golden moment for George Bush, we would probably be attacking Iran right now!).

    April 30, 2010 at 3:23 pm | Report abuse |
  12. mike

    DRILL BABY DRILL!

    April 30, 2010 at 3:25 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Aaron

    You know what the greatest failure of Western culture is and specifically America? Our failure to adopt the perspective of the real Americans (native Americans) and their reverence and respect for nature. Instead, we destroy our own environment for profit. Disgusting. And to top if off, half our population actively supports the destruction of our environment so they can lead the wasteful lifestyle they feel they are entitled to, regardless of the consequences that affect everyone. Those chanting drill baby drill needed to be dragged kicking and screaming into the light of the new century.

    April 30, 2010 at 3:25 pm | Report abuse |
  14. cory

    you know whats funny.....What ever happened to talking about the two "wars".....Did everyon forget about UNICAL??????This is horse crap of a situation for us I understand but nobody wants to pay attention to the pipeline from the Caspian to India, China, Russia . I know it seems like there is no relavance but I just think this is truly what one of the guys said up top. A Bank Botch So to speak. I really think this stuff is ironicallly funny and f' d up all in the same sentence. To many arrows pointing to some thing bigger. The SWAT team really threw me off, but who am I???? Almost like a plumber, who redirects the flow of liquid with yet another kink in the pipe. And God's Mercy????wtf is that anymore. Only Education and Energy to go on the nationalization list of 8 and The "God Given Rights", (we never had in the beginning) will slowly keep us in our damn houses. And that new ID CARD.....Wow how exciting.

    April 30, 2010 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Qwark

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deepwater_Horizon_drilling_rig_explosion

    April 30, 2010 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
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