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. Jan Wells

    We have the technology to not use any more oil. The technology exists. I saw an article recently about a guy who converted his Ford Mustang to a engine that got 100 miles to the gallon. It makes me very mad and sad that the idiots who want to Drill baby drill and aren't cleaning up up the SPILL, BABY, SPILL! I think we need to drill an new orifice where the sun don't shine. Because it is obvious, the drill-nuts are thinking with that appendage.

    April 30, 2010 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse |
  2. TC

    Jack49 – your cohorts scream at government involvement in anything. This is a private mess – BPs mess. No you accuse the government and expect the government to get involved in a [private industry] catastrophe.

    You guys want it both ways, but particularly you want government involvement when it's convenient for the right, big business, liberty under the guise of misguided and misinterpreted faith and creeds.

    Both dems and repubs have bad folks, but your ilk are the epitome of hypocrisy.

    How do we know you were born here. Let's see those papers.

    April 30, 2010 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse |
  3. HAL

    you can bet california wont be starting any more offshore drilling!

    April 30, 2010 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse |
  4. L Smith

    Let's look at the numbers
    21 inch riser
    7.65 production casing (outside dia)
    18000 bottom of well
    7.6 pounds per gallon (weight of oil in casing)
    13100# psi pressure of formation at the bottom of well
    18000 times .052times 7.6=the pressure at bottom of well or 7113 psi
    8k to 10k BBL per day!!! from day one
    the only thing is that BP says the riser is bent restricting flow–who know how much?
    this is the numbers they need to work with for at least 90 days
    it going to take a lot of boom–1100 miles of coast line to protect–the boom will have to be replaced when full of crude--GOOD LUCK to everyone

    April 30, 2010 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse |
  5. stacy

    where is superman?

    April 30, 2010 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Dan

    Update 4:34
    Dont worry Big O is on the job.

    April 30, 2010 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Navigator

    Calm down everyone, it’s just evolution in progress, survival of the fittest. If we lose any animals during this spill it’s just because they weren’t strong enough for the new world we are creating. I say if they can’t handle the pollution, get out of the water!!!!!

    April 30, 2010 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Dan

    Theres got to be a way to blame bush for this.

    April 30, 2010 at 4:36 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Alberta Man

    I see another Obama bail-out coming!
    Print somemore worthless Americano dollars and everythig will be "G".

    When I think of H'Americans I think of their hero "Forrest Gump" and his famous line, " Stupid Is as Stupid Does".

    You and your "Jesus" president, Obama, should quit dissing the Alberta Tar Sands! At least here we've got it under control.

    Whereas your whole Gulf Eco System is on the eve of destruction!

    April 30, 2010 at 4:37 pm | Report abuse |
  10. TC

    Billy-bob

    as soon as people remember that he deregulated the oil industry which otherwise could have put in safety measures to prevent this from happening.

    oh yeah, and after Obama is blamed for setting up the explosion.

    After all, we all know that history didn't exist before Obama right? Ye cherub Bush didn't even exist and if he did he certainly could do no wrong.

    April 30, 2010 at 4:39 pm | Report abuse |
  11. YEARIGHT

    YOU ARE A DEMOCRATIC IDIOT JUST LIKE YOUR FATHER TERRY!

    April 30, 2010 at 4:40 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Jane

    Hi Joe Moffett....for heavens sake go out there with Sarah and start scrubbing those poor birds. Is it working for ya,,,,,you betcha. ūüôā

    April 30, 2010 at 4:41 pm | Report abuse |
  13. gulf coast lover

    i have lived on the gulf coast my entire life, my dad retired with chevron, i have seen the damage oil can cause and make no mistake, this will be catastrophic beyond the imagination. big oil is the most powerful intity on the planet, they compare to bill gates like an elephant to a flea, they lobby politico's with millions and millions of dollars to get what they want. they are prepared for disaster, not to prevent the environmental impact, but to down play the significants of the disaster and their responsibility to clean it up, and they will tell you when its been cleaned up, to their discreation. the exxon valdez, and kuiwait don't compare to this. the mississippi river is going to push this slick right on to the mississippi, alabama, and florida gulf coast , like its been doing for a thousand years, and there is nothing to be done about it.

    April 30, 2010 at 4:41 pm | Report abuse |
  14. ocho

    NEVER LET A GOOD CRISIS GO TO WASTE!!!!

    guess we have one now ....
    I wonder which side lib or con is going to to make the most money from it while letting those who caused the mess to skate by with minimum slapps on the the wrist.

    Personal responsibility people!!!!
    PRP the new policitcal party!!!!

    April 30, 2010 at 4:42 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Steve

    I hope Sarah Palin and all her "drill baby drill" cronies will be the first people in Louisiana ready to start cleaning the coastline.... And yes, that includes Barack Obama. (Gotta' be fair). Can't wait to see the New BP commercials now.

    April 30, 2010 at 4:43 pm | Report abuse |
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