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. Larry L

    To Robert.E.Lee.

    Your comments about socialism conflict with your need for a greater, faster response. You people who constantly whine about too much government expect to have it both ways. If you slash the Department of the Interior, FEMA, CDC, and other government agencies created to solve crisis scenarios, don't complain when they're unavailable. You call for "States Rights" – fine. Let's see Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, and Florida solve this problem. They are "red" states and their Senators are the first to throw out the term "Socialism". They should be able to set a great example for the rest of us...

    April 30, 2010 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Kevin

    Why were'nt these miles of catainment booms put in place immediatly so they could siphon the oil off of the surface surrounding the well head? It should have been mandatory to contain the spill instead of leting it disperse through out the entire gulf. Where is the for-sight of the people in charge of this industry? Now they have to put booms along the entire coast lines of every gulf coast state to try to protect them. But i'm sure B. P.'s top executives will get a big bonus at the end of the year for doing such a fine performance just like the bankers.

    April 30, 2010 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Alan

    Look we knew this was going to happen. The writing was on the wall yesterday.

    http://www.familysurvivalcenter.com/news.htm

    They should have set the whole thing on fire last week. This oil slick will coat the shores from Galveston to Pensacola, destroying the fishing and tourist industries in the South.

    April 30, 2010 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
  4. ranch111

    It's not just driving cars that uses tremendous amounts of oil. Almost every single industry depends on oil to make the things we buy and own, directly or indirectly. The world runs on oil. It's worth more than any resource because without it, we would 'suffer' a drop in our standard of living. The president should see this spill as a harbinger of the future. If he decides to open up drilling on Atlantic seaboard, this will happen again. He needs to be more aggressive in pushing and funding the alternative energy sector, republicans be damned. The faster we can reduce oil consumption the better. This is a tragedy that could have been mitigated with proper regulation and compliance, but never underestimate human error, greed and incompetence to void any good intentions. Worst case scenario is going to happen, and it's not going to be pretty.

    April 30, 2010 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
  5. SpillBaby

    Jindal complains about big government but when the hypocrite needs help, who's the first person he ask?

    April 30, 2010 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
  6. John

    To those complaining about sending their money to the Middle East for oil – why don't you try not be so effin dependent on oil, so you won't have to send so much of your money to the Middle East. Try conserving a little. The world doesn't revolve around you, and what's most convenient for you.

    April 30, 2010 at 4:27 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Matt

    We lived in Cordiova, Alaska in 1989 and had a thriving commercial fishing business. It is impossible to describe the absolute misery on so many levels associated with a spill of this magnitude. My suggestion; don't listen to the promises, especially those from the oil companies and politicians, most certainly don't think justice will be served in the end. The US Supreme Court will sell you down the road without even blinking, though it will take 20 years. My suggestion; roll your sleeves up, help save what you can and rely only on yourself when looking forward. Be relentless, use every resource you have to DEMAND some accountability. Our familie's prayers are with you.

    April 30, 2010 at 4:27 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Sean Moffett

    Our own government probably carried out this terrorist attack and cleaned up the crime scene... Seems like more of a demolition job than an accident... If bodies were found, they would probably be riddled with 5.56 mm rounds... Now DHS and SWAT is involved? I already knew something funny was going on...

    April 30, 2010 at 4:28 pm | Report abuse |
  9. TC

    Where's Nicola Tesla when we need him? I'm for Algae energy and the Bloom Box from Bloom Energy, solar too of course.

    April 30, 2010 at 4:28 pm | Report abuse |
  10. mrrusss

    This just in. FEMA has gotten word of a large oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico. They are making plans to assess whether it is a threat or not.

    April 30, 2010 at 4:28 pm | Report abuse |
  11. JJ

    Was this rig drilling in 5000 Feet of water? How many more riggs are there in the Gulf that are drilling at this depth? I thought typical offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico was at 100-400 Feet. Are there any regulations that limit the depth at which riggs can drill? Drilling at depths greater that 400 feet would seem to be a disaster waiting to happen!

    April 30, 2010 at 4:29 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Jed

    Enough. There's enough finger pointing to make a line to the moon. Griping is not going to solve the problem at hand which is a massive oil slick. Pointing fingers at Republicans and Democrats is sensless and until we go back to horse and buggy we will need oil. Now, the issue at hand is what to do with this slick? All of the action so far is to be reactive than proactive. Why hasn't some genius at either level of gov said napalm this crap and burn the whole darn thing at once? There's going to be ecological damage regardless but napalm it and prevent it from hitting the shores.

    April 30, 2010 at 4:29 pm | Report abuse |
  13. AnyIdeas?

    To Kevin in Tampa, FL: In response to your comments and specifically-" It needs to be reformed and restocked with personnel that will do the will of the people.", if you were allowed to spearhead this overhaul of the government, you will need to organize different views together into groups so that the views/voices can be heard. The groups are called political parties.

    April 30, 2010 at 4:31 pm | Report abuse |
  14. JoeNJ

    There's no way to ignite crude oil unless you
    heat it to about 200 deg. F.
    Will someone explain how crude oil could have exploded??
    I think you need more than SWAT teams.

    April 30, 2010 at 4:32 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Thomas Figgins

    This is intolerable. I am fed up with our dependence on oil. We have become complacent with our trust in technology. It always takes a disaster to change our perception and attitudes. I am embarrassed by our government and the lack of common sense when it comes to protecting our environment. Most of our representatives are more concerned about keeping their jobs than doing the right thing. Obama has lied about his attitude about lobbyists and still takes advantage of this corrupt system. He is a snake oil salesman that refuses to question his own rhetoric and we need a way to keep him accountable for his campaign promises. Most intelligent people understood the inherent dangers of off-shore oil drilling yet have been distracted by other issues.

    April 30, 2010 at 4:32 pm | Report abuse |
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