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. PA-Pilot

    This was not an accident.

    April 30, 2010 at 4:00 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Qwark

    Moo baby Moo. C02 output from livestock is already 5x more that all autos combined.
    Chew baby Chew. If we ran on vegetable oil, the vegetables would be too expensive and we'd have to eat more meat, thus compounding the problem. I give up.
    Blow baby blow. When wind aint blowin the lights go out. Not good.

    April 30, 2010 at 4:00 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Slime Creature from Outer Space

    I do not believe that 6.2 billion people on the planet is quite enough. I will be issuing an order later today for you dumb, stupid bastards to begin multiplying at maximum capacity. This way, you can get it over with sooner than later- kiss your planet goodbye worthless Earthlings!

    April 30, 2010 at 4:01 pm | Report abuse |
  4. bob martin

    is bp going to declare bankrupcy? talk on the street.

    April 30, 2010 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Disperse and Gather?

    Why are they adding dispersant while they are trying to contain it with booms on the other side? The two things are opposites. That's like putting a fan over the dust pan when you are trying to sweep into it. The physics really are that simple. No wonder they're not making any progress.

    April 30, 2010 at 4:03 pm | Report abuse |
  6. wkl

    UMMMM – so 98% of you folks are freaking goofballs. Maybe we should buy our nuclear energy from Iran

    April 30, 2010 at 4:03 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Deborah

    Has anyone considered the possibility of diverting the oil to the surface via some kind of hose, pipe, etc. loaded onto a ship and removed until the actual flow can be shut off? Or how about some kind of controlled explosion that could seal off the well? Or how about asking for ideas from the American people that could be considered rather than waiting three horrible months for BP to shut off the well. Or how about a crane with a giant sham-wow type of oil soaking up item or device. I have questions also about the safety of the "dispersants" that are being released into the ocean – what EXACTLY are "dispersants"?

    April 30, 2010 at 4:03 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Ricky

    This is a terrible disaster. Just to think, there was a time not so long ago during times like these that Americans would pull together to help in any way they could. It really hurts to see how low we have become to put political spins & being critical instead of helping & doing something constructive.

    April 30, 2010 at 4:03 pm | Report abuse |
  9. MIKE

    BE HAPPY DON'T WORRY OBAMA WILL SAVE US ALL

    April 30, 2010 at 4:07 pm | Report abuse |
  10. charles gates

    Can someone turn off the damn faucet? How in the world safety valves cannot be shut off is a complete mystery. I thought this technology was safe? Thank the oil companies for NOT reinvesting a portion of their profits into taking care of their equipment to make it safer for everyone.

    April 30, 2010 at 4:07 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Kevin - Tampa, Florida

    I just read a comment regarding republican vs democrat. Republicans are for the businessman. Democrats are for the Citizens...
    That is a load of crap. If Democrats were for citizens, they would not be destroying the private sector, eliminating jobs and income sources all over the country. Why not think about this before you open your mouth.
    I am not saying republicans are great. They have had their share of bad movements. Let us look at the whole government when it comes to citizens. The government is supposed to be for the people, by the people. All I see are those who want to further grow their own powers and bank account for personal gain (I.E. traitor Charlie Crist running as an independant because his party will not back him after he lied about his position on stimulus. Just a selfish move to keep his political power).
    Our government is corrupt and in dire need of a PEOPLE LED REFORM. We need to replace the entire cabinet, from president to mayor. We need to redefine what they are allowed to do and limit their ability to meddel in private sector affairs. Every last citizen needs to stand and demand a redistribution of power. It is time we take back the power from those who seek it for their agenda.
    No more race. No more sex. No more this party or that. It needs to be reformed and restocked with personnel that will do the will of the people. I dont care if its a black, asian, latin, white, brown, albino, man or woman. If they are going to fight for what WE THE PEOPLE want, then they will have my support, both verbally and physically. I love this country too much to watch it die. And I feel every single A,merican should feel the same way.
    America will survive this and prosper. We support and save the world, not the other way around.

    April 30, 2010 at 4:08 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Fed UP

    Until disaster strikes nothing is done to be proactive or prevent. I love the comment ‚ÄúClean up‚ÄĚ. This ignorance speaks volumes! Remember the Exxon Valdez? Still impacting the environment. The truth is, you can‚Äôt wash every pebble of it. It sinks to the bottom only to return after storms stir it up. It is ingested by the wildlife and passed down the food chain. Some of the richest wet lands on the earth are done! All in the name of money and greed. As a species we are pretty pathetic. Between the environmental impacts and this clown we got in office there is going to be nothing recognizable left for our future generations. Let‚Äôs ramp up how many oil rigs are out in the ocean. Great idea!

    April 30, 2010 at 4:09 pm | Report abuse |
  13. JDH

    To the folks in Louisiana, Mississippi, Georgia and Florida, my thoughts and prayers go out to you. To the folks who want more drilling, maybe you could trade places with some of the good hard working folks there. Forrest Gump said "stupid is as stupid does" and that pretty much sums up my thoughts on the matter.......

    April 30, 2010 at 4:09 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Keith

    2012 is coming and thisis just the start...
    What freakin' idiots... We as people are sooooo stupid...
    These oil companies suck.... All they want is money, money, money....

    We need to hear the warnings that are being sent our way...

    This earth is not going to put up with much more of this craziness...

    April 30, 2010 at 4:11 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Rob

    Sorry but were are these bastards that have been up front since day one. Seems BP and Tranoceans are mum now. Well you would figure it should be law if they have these rigs in the ocean. They should have all the material to clean up the mess. Not leave it too the states and citys to come up with plans to clean this mess up. So i agree these two should be held accountable , criminal and finacal. If it was any average joe , we would already be in prison. Clock is ticking every second. Yet the oil is whipping your butt's. Are you just hoping it will go away.. Its been a week. You can not tell me with all the brains Government have, and oil companys that you have not figured out how to get all that oil out with our recking havic on our planet. So until you can prove you have a better plan for a mess like this in the future. Stop all drilling in our oceans. Stop production that is in place now. I prefer no oil , to not having a plantet for the next generation.

    April 30, 2010 at 4:12 pm | Report abuse |
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