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. AngryinPensacola

    Andrew. You're the one who isn't knowledgeable. It is because of the politicians and the people who vote them in is why we don't explore other energy alternatives that would make us less dependent on oil. It is all about the all might dollar and the easy way out. And IF you are from here, you know that hard working people with their own business dependent of the shores of the Emerald Coast and tourism will no longer have jobs, But the those who work for the oil companies sure will!! I bet you are a supporter of Jeff Miller too, who still supports off shore drilling. Well I hope he isn't planning on running for re-election and his butt better be on the shores helping to clean up the dead and dying animals too; but I think that is highly unlikely.

    April 30, 2010 at 5:44 pm | Report abuse |
  2. AnyIdeas?

    To L Smith-Got it! Thanks! I.e., bigger mess that admitting or responding to.

    April 30, 2010 at 5:51 pm | Report abuse |
  3. gulf coast lover

    typical of our government and all the agencies that don't communicate, remember the shuttle, "oh styrofoam can't do damage" and then boom three foot hole in the wing, and 9/11 ""terrorist are planning an attack with jumbo jets" you know the rest, now obama sending lawyers to the oil disaster, what? is he planning his retirement, i agree with some of you, that these things should be thought out before implementing the technology so that these disasters can be prevented before they happen. . back when government was small and our economy wasn't driven by oil, someone said, "the great hope for society is individual character" well oil companies and our government aren't individuals they don't care about environments they care about money and power, and i think its high time, both were reined in

    April 30, 2010 at 5:55 pm | Report abuse |
  4. bpeters

    OK. Now all of the "drill baby drill" folks get ready to help with the clean up. I want to see Sarah P and all of the rest of you that keep pushing for expanded drilling to wash a couple of oil soaked birds and marine animals and while they're doing that, give us your best speech on how we should "Drill baby Drill"

    April 30, 2010 at 5:57 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Navigator

    forget the birds, who needs them. All they do is mess on my SUV.

    DRILL BABY DRILL!!!!!!!!!!

    I'm just sad all that good crude is going to waste.

    April 30, 2010 at 6:00 pm | Report abuse |
  6. JBL

    DRILL BABY DRILL. It isn't drilling that caused this. It was a careless error. Mr. bpeters, why don't you give us your best speech on how we should support terrorism and raise gas prices. God created this planet with resources to use. It is very sad when something like this happens, but it is our job to learn from our mistakes and grow from them. Not to destroy what we have worked for because of a mistake. I am going to keep using this illustration... We don't need to stop electing presidents just because Obama is in office.

    April 30, 2010 at 6:03 pm | Report abuse |
  7. JBL

    Navigator, that is not the right attitude either.

    April 30, 2010 at 6:04 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Paul

    You have to wonder whether God wants a new energy policy. With this oil spill getting ready to devastate the Gulf Coast, threating thousand of his creatures, people's livlihoods, the economy and damage to the coastline; in addition to the 50 plus lives taken in the past couple of months due to oil refinery explosions, platform fires and mine disasters. It makes me scratch my head.

    I pray that God will provide our elected officials the wisdom to make the right decisions.

    Oh, and let us not forget the thousand of soldiers lives, and their families, that have been affected by our oil policy in the Middle East. May God be with you.

    April 30, 2010 at 6:07 pm | Report abuse |
  9. John LaFayette

    JBL, these "errors" are preventable but your 'blame the environmental whackos' as you see engaged citizens, doesn't hold these companies responsible for their tragic destruction. Your cavalier attitude is soul destroying to be honest..

    April 30, 2010 at 6:10 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Kevin

    The rich B!!ch across the puddle better get ready to open her purse and wallet. I'm shorting the farm on B.P.

    April 30, 2010 at 6:10 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Joey

    I live in south Louisiana and just want to say when will it end. I think it was an accident but even when accidents happen you still hold people accountable. BP and whoever else will have to answer for this eventually. In a way it doesn't matter. What I am worried about the most is all the hard working people it will affect. I have family in the seafood industry and I worry about them. I know people on these offshore platforms and I worry about them also. Then we have tourism from Florida to Texas. I am worried about how they will survive. The funny thing is I work for a power company and we use natural gas to fire our powerplant. Thing is we use the mississippi river for cooling water which is the lifeline of any fossil powerplant. I can not honestly say how this will affect the grid in the USA because I am not sure what will happen if this oil creeps up the river around New Orleans. We may have to shutdown due to this but thats speculation on my part. If we do have to shutdown I can think of a lot of other powerplants along the gulfcoast who will shut down. This can cause rolling blackouts in the entire USA. As it is we have a energy crisis for power already. A lot of people do not realize this. I just talked to a friend from Chicago and he asked if it was contained. I told him where you been. He owns a big shipping company. He will realize the effects when his gas prices double and cripples him. I hope that doesn't happen but it may. I don't know folks. Just seems everthing is going to crap with our wondeful country. And i don't even have the energy to blame people. Just very upset with all the peoples lives this will harm. The wildlife that will be destroyed is very upsetting. sigh.... Just a bad situation and to be honest I am not sure if any government or oil company has a plan for a disaster like this. I do know they need to get together and atleast try to get a gameplan. The oil booms are not working like they should but I give those folks an A for effort. Just have to get a session with all parties and lock yourself in a room and come up with the best ideas. I personally do not know how to resolve this problem and they may not be one. We can burn it and mop it is about all i know of. I have no idea how to cap the well itself. Thats a lot of pressure.

    In Summary, all we can do as a human race is try and hope for the best. Once its over is when people will be held accountable. And if they get off due to corruption then in my personal beliefs they will be dealt with in the next life. Say a prayer people and do what you can to help the situation not argue. Now is not the time. I love you all and we need some goodluck to all of us.

    April 30, 2010 at 6:12 pm | Report abuse |
  12. John LaFayette

    Evidently God doesn't give a toss, Paul. Look around you. We have over 160 foreign military bases and are conducting 2 wars (3 actually). The Gulf Coast has dead zones the size of Texas already. God's long dead.

    April 30, 2010 at 6:15 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Maryann Rose, Orlando FL

    Workin4U – Post #242 – That was an excellent post.

    If only we could get rid of the oil companies and the food companies and do it ourselves.

    We are a 'Corporatocracy' now. We are doomed.

    I'm not sure if Corporatocracy is a word, but it's what we are.

    April 30, 2010 at 6:16 pm | Report abuse |
  14. JBL

    John LaFayette, who said I was "blaming environmental whackos". I think BP is learning their lesson. I do think they should be held responsible. That is how we learn from mistakes . I don't rightly know what to say about the "soul destroying comment". The soul lives forever in either Heaven or Hell. How 'bout that.

    April 30, 2010 at 6:23 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Steven

    Quote: "How's all of dat der drilley offshorey stuff workin out fer ye'all?
    You betcher." posted by Spill Baby. LOL That certainly summs it up fully. Of course Palin fully understands oil spills because she could see exxon valdez from her front door. ;P

    April 30, 2010 at 6:28 pm | Report abuse |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31