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. Robert M

    I truly feel awful about this. It doesnt matter if BP is responsible. It has to be our response (lack there of) to this disaster. Safety wasnt taken seriously to this disaster. They were spending too much time finding these 11 men and they didnt tackle the larger issue...the COAST...wildlife..etc. There is no excuse why there should be oil washing up onto the shore..Nothing..Period.

    April 30, 2010 at 5:09 pm | Report abuse |
  2. mrrusss

    Just think, as we write our comments, a pipe in the Gulf of Mexico is just openly spewing out oil at 5,000, ....no,.... 200,000 gallons a day. At this rate, we will reach the magnitude of the 11 million gallon Exxon spill in a little less than a year.... no.... a little less than two months.

    April 30, 2010 at 5:10 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Scottish Mama

    Concerned voter- I started my own garden.
    Amen to SB's comments.

    April 30, 2010 at 5:11 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Andi from Tampa, FL

    Remember the Exxon Valdez disaster? Exxon was SUPPOSED to pay the victims but went to court. The Supreme Court slashed Exxon's settlements for victims to only 10 percent of the original settlement!! THEN, the victims had to turn over their settlement funds to the State of Alaska. FINALLY, the victims had to pay taxes on the reduced settlement checks!!!

    Stupid Palin did NOTHING for the repeatedly victimized Alaska residents.

    BP will rely on that insane Supreme Court decision to minimize their costs. I think the "Drill Baby Drill" crowd should pay the Deepwater Horizon disaster victims any & all funds that the Supreme Court decides BP won't have to pay.

    April 30, 2010 at 5:12 pm | Report abuse |
  5. nmguy

    It will take a long investigation to figure out what went wrong with the blowout preventers, you can speculate all you want. If they had been functional, or somebody on the platform had not been asleep-at-the-switch, this disaster would not have occurred. Its also possible the BOP functioned initially but the sinking rig dislodged it when it hit bottom. For those placing blame on the Govt/Obama for not preventing it or stopping the flow of oil in a timely fashion, if the Govt had the resources and infrastructure to do this, you would be complaining about the huge cost to taxpayers to prevent something that would occur every 20 years or moret. Some people are simple idiots.

    April 30, 2010 at 5:12 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Workin4U

    I dont want an electric car. I want to fuel my car with rocket fuel. I want to drive a rocket. I just like it. And Hydrogen can do that. Hydrogen comes from water. But you need energy to desalinate the water so we have an abundent water suppy. They you steam the water and separate the Hydrogen from the oxygen. Just great. Ifyou combine solar solar and the new Wind sources, and ellectric, adn add hydrogen made with nuclear fision, and then build new fusion plants... you move into a new era of technology and the more you design and engineer in this field the more discoveries and better technologies you will have.

    Evey student in college should be getting paid and researching in these new fields. This is where much of the new ideas will come from, from kids who are currently riding around on their tricycles with a load in thier pants. That is reality.

    We need to educate and provide for these young monsters, not stop them from getting and education. We cant be charging them to go to school. We need to help them and encourage them.

    The people in America need jobs – and they need them now. Has anybody seen what the banks have done to our property values???? The banks and credit bureas and govenment assesment have taken everything away. ANd the banks are showing record profits.

    My family had a home in Sarasota Florida for over 27 years. 10 minutes from Siesta Key. I feel so bad that this oil disaster was allowed to happen. And about the way it was handled and about the way is it being handled today. I thought they were going to light it and burn it if possible before it reached shore. Must not be able to burn it.

    To answer a few questions There 89 other rigs just like this one drilling as we speak in off the Gulf Coast. For the lady with teh Mustang with 100 miles per gallon. ITs 65 miels per gallon tops by steaming water and feeding it into the intake manifold with the air, the hyrdogen burns when it mixes with the gas and air. IT clenas your engine, it gives you 65 miles to a gallon. You have to carry gallons of water inthe truck and feed it via a pump up to the engine companrtment and then steam small amount in a plexiglass container and let the steam rise forced into the intake manifold. And when you do this you must replace he exhast manifolds, catlytic heaters, muffler, and all exhaust pipes each year becasue the rust out from the excess water going out the exhaust, but the engine is cleaned and healthy for a lot longer life by the hydrogen in the pistons. This is a real and viable technology. Well worth replacing the exhaust pipes each year. And if you were to coat the inside of the exhaust system with a specail hih temp creamic paint, you could eliminiate the rusting issue. And every single auto manufacturer could have been using this technology over the past 70 years. But they dont and wont. You could all be getting 65 miles to a gallon, but that is not profitiable, your cars enigne will last too long, and neither the car makers or the oil companies will profit from the consumer having this technology.

    You know there nothing like a good appalossa or Arabian as you climb the ridge with the dog to kill that elk and dress the meat. Pack the meat above the snow line as a natural freezer and stash it to feed your family. The full moon rising over the mountains, the coyotes howling in the distance. A nice fire and a winchester by your side as you sip a hot cup of coffee. But those are gone...... Well at least for most of you.....

    April 30, 2010 at 5:15 pm | Report abuse |
  7. KC

    How old was the rig? Who owned it before BP or was it built by BP? Regardless the damage is done and I feel that we will all be paying for it, more life lessons that we learn the hard way.

    April 30, 2010 at 5:15 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Janice Brown

    As a Canadian, I feel so sorry for those who are being impacted by this huge oil spill. It doesn't matter whether it's recorded in litres, barrels, etc., the size of this disaster is unbelievable and the impact it's going to have is just starting.

    I don't know if you're Americans who are blaming Americans for being so oil hungry but I think that you're wrong there. I'd say that most of the world's population is over-dependent on oil and the products that are produced from it. This started years ago and has only gotten worse. But there has been a bit of a light at the end of the tunnel. More people are recycling, going green and using less energy.

    There are other types of energy resources that could be used instead of oil. For example, i don't know if any of you have heard of geothermal energy but it makes a lot of sense for those who could use it in their homes, etc.. It only requires electricity – the same electricity needed to run a furnace which uses natural gas or oil.

    If one remembers their history, people outside of the citiies used to use wind power (wind mills) in order to get water out of their wells. There are more people switching to the updated version of these wind mills using more advanced technology.

    What I'd like to know is why we have computers that are so powerful now, using tiny processors, etc. but we are still back in the "Dark Ages" as far as using oil and other carbon based energy sources? If people can invent and improve on the technology used in computers, cell phones, etc., then I'm sure that someone can invent smaller and more powerful energy producers such as solar panels and wind turbines and I don't mean those massive things either. Even these huge wind turbine "farms" take up a lot of land and there are many reported bird deaths because of them. But I'd say that a lot of it comes down to greed and money as well as the control of the oil companies over what happens in politics, etc.

    People have to start not only realizing that we are part of and interconnected with everything on the planet but have to start to care and act positively. Without the latter two, the downslide that we are all on will only continue eventually impacting all of us in a huge negative way.

    It's time that people came out of the past, stop believing old wives tales about how we "need" oil and it's byproducts, how we're doomed without it and start taking positive action to stop the destruction of not only the planet but also the obliteration of everything else that lives on it. To those people who claim that world economies will suffer without being allowed to continue in the "old" ways, I say, "Without a planet to live on, you won't have any economies and what would it matter! So who's being stupid?"

    April 30, 2010 at 5:19 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Andrew

    It seems that those with no real knowledge of the issues or situation are the first to spout off with smug comments or clichés. This is a disaster for sure, but all this feigned outrage and political posturing is not helping anything.

    Eric Holder ordering the Justice Dept. to use all available resources to perform a criminal investigation is ludicrous. There will be plenty of time for that. If he really wants to helps, he should order the Justice Dept. lawyers to but on their hard hats and life preservers and man the boats or hit the wetlands and help clean this mess up. There will be plenty of time for an investigation later.

    The oil and gas industry operates hundreds if not thousands of off-shore wells in U.S. waters and can anyone name the last oil spill from those operations? And just so we’re straight, the Exxon Valdese was not off-shore production it was transportation of on-shore production. I didn’t think so.

    Over the last five years hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Ike, and Gustav ravaged the Gulf of Mexico laying to waist dozens if not hundreds of platform, some of which have not been found to this day. Where was the praise for the industry then, when not a single major spill was recorded?

    For all those demanding the shutdown of all off-shore oil and gas production in the U.S, stop heating your house in the winter and cooling it in the summer, because without the off-shore production of oil and natural gas there would be insufficient energy supplies to do either. It would also be advisable if you stopped using any plastic (a petroleum product) especially those plastic water bottles. And 50 years from now when petroleum from algae or another one of these alternative energy sources becomes practical, you can go back to heating, cooling and drinking.

    Until then, the oil and gas industry in the Gulf of Mexico provides hundreds of thousands of good paying jobs and allows the rest of us to maintain one of the highest standards of living in the world. So my advice to everyone is to not speak about that which you know nothing and get down here and help clean up this mess.

    And so that everyone is clear, I neither work in the oil and gas industry or drive an SUV, but I do live along the Gulf Coast.

    April 30, 2010 at 5:19 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Andi from Tampa, FL

    Cres should do some research!
    Shell has an abysmal record of oil spills. In fact, 40% of Shell's oil spills worldwide occur in Nigeria's Niger Delta. Only 14% of Shell's oil comes from Nigeria.

    Chevron also had multiple spills in Nigeria.

    But I'm sure the deaths of Nigerians don't matter to him/her.

    April 30, 2010 at 5:27 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Zeb Minas from PA

    Many have made points about how petroleum products are intertwined in the very fabric of our day to day lives. Much as I would like to think about eliminating the use of petroleum products everywhere, I agree it is completely unrealistic in the short term, perhaps even in the medium term.

    That said, I believe we must do some serious work to look for cheaper (and hopefully cleaner!) alternatives. It makes no sense to me to argue that we should continue down the same path that we're on, knowing that some day (maybe soon, maybe not) we will run out of oil, or we will do damage to the environment. What I don't understand is why continued dependence on oil is somehow inconsistent with a concerted effort to find alternatives.

    I live in an area where I could probably wean myself off the electric grid for 70% of my annual needs by switching to solar power. However, the costs are currently astronomical, and there is no way I could afford to do that - the payback for my situation is around 25 years! We need to figure out how to make that payback be 10 years.

    Peace.

    April 30, 2010 at 5:32 pm | Report abuse |
  12. John LaFayette

    I'm just so disgusted. Why are more Americans not furious about these spills. The Gulf has huge dead spots already and this will further deplete what's left. If there is to be drilling then it must be safe and clean. Offshore drilling pollutes on a daily basis and goes unchecked. It's only the huge catastrophic spills that get reported. This is not acceptable. The attitude of the pro-drill commentators is irresponsible at best. The lack of compassion for the destruction of region's environment is harder to explain.

    April 30, 2010 at 5:33 pm | Report abuse |
  13. MP Cathmor

    No. 309 Andrew – lose your hope that Justice Dept. lawyers will star scooping oil. And I'd rather see them investigating this now, before some witnesses are silenced with bribes or threats. Also, it's their job, so why not let them do it now, instead of wasting their time in their Washington, DC offices?

    April 30, 2010 at 5:38 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Nick ((Louisiana))

    I still chant "" Drill Baby Drill ""...If not you would all be saying "" Walk Baby Walk ""
    No drill, no gas !!!!

    April 30, 2010 at 5:41 pm | Report abuse |
  15. LSmith

    To AnyIdeas? This is my point-when is Doug Suttles and BP going to let us in on the truth?
    They were paying $ 202.80 per minute for this rig they know exactly what was going on minute by minute.When is the coast guard and the public going to get in on the truth?
    We don't need 50 skimmers we need 5000!!!

    April 30, 2010 at 5:43 pm | Report abuse |
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