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. JOhn, Sacramento

    Can't believe how many of these posts are trying to throw in their political bias, but not come up with a solution for the future. Truth is we need both. We need to drill, and simultaneously work our a** off to come up with a clean alternative.................Our goal should be to create a scenario, where you cannot determine whether oil or sand is more valuable...............It can easily happen, but it will take 30-40 years. Meanwhile, both parties ought to get together, make a plan and make it happen...........The rest of the world is getting on this path. If we don't we will be left behind, just like we were with autos in the 80's and 90's.............I like a lot of the GOP ideas, but I TRUST Obama to make good decisions. He thinks things out, does not hold grudges like 90 % of the above blogs, and most of all he is practical and intelligent. I have no problem if the GOP wins a bunch of seats in November either, so long as we realize that we need a president that is smart enough to put the very best of America out there every day and that is what he does.

    April 30, 2010 at 6:33 pm | Report abuse |
  2. JBL

    John Lafayette. God is alive and He does "give a toss". However, he gives people the right to choose. Apparently you have not read the Bible. There were wars that God commanded the Israelites to go to. It is the result of sin. If we didn't make mistakes, then this wouldn't have happened. Who says that God is always going to bring flowers, peace and happiness anyway. He is a God of love, but foremost, He is a God of holiness. Anything that happens is still much better than what we deserve for rejecting him and everything he has given us. You are saying that the God that created everything you see is dead? That is foolish to say the least.

    April 30, 2010 at 6:33 pm | Report abuse |
  3. JBL

    Hahaha,JOhn, Sacramento, you just said there was too much political bias, and then you throw this comment about Obama "putting the very best of America out there every day". How about going against the very best 90% of people in the supposedly non-socialist US and forcing a health care bill down their throats.

    April 30, 2010 at 6:38 pm | Report abuse |
  4. MK

    JBL (and Navigator)...using your logic...God gave us ignorant people to use as Canon fodder...your number just got called. Someone will be by to collect your useless carcasses sometime tomorrow.

    You thinking you have the RIGHT to live to a certain standard does NOT give you the right to do it at the expense of others Rights. That's why I can't smoke in public, right? My rights can't infringe upon others' rights. Whenever I hear someone make some dumbass comment about man comes before any of God's other creatures...I suddenly yearn for a bigger peg on the food chain above Humans. Maybe if someone was arbitrarily killing you and yours so they could watch "Arrogant asses Dance Badly in Public" on their 8000" TV you wouldn't feel so cavalier about making those decisions without regard to the consequences.

    One of my favorite movie quotes...the only 2 organisms on earth that will destroy their own habitat, use up all the resources, then move on to destroy a new area when that one is used up...humans and viruses. Man is NOT above any other organism...it's all connected. Problem is 95% of the populace is too damn ignorant to see that until it's too late to change.

    And as far as the Obama quote....show me the guy that could fix the steaming pile the "I ate lead paint chips when I was young" Bush left? He was screwed when he was elected. It was going in the toilet and just like this spill...people don't really care why their life sux...they just want someone to blame. I tell my kids Democrats are people who wanna help people using your money, Republicans are people who don't care who gets helped as long as they don't have to pay for it or take any responsiblity for it. I think you're in the latter group.

    April 30, 2010 at 6:41 pm | Report abuse |
  5. JOhn, Sacramento

    to JBL, don't know your circumstances, but if you had a teen age daughter, that developed parkinsons, multiple schlerosis, or even worse cancer, you would be capped, cancelled, and bankrupt within 5 years (if you are willing to fight for her life). I don't like paying for the lazy, but I don't want your daughter to lose her health care or for you to steal, get divorced, or go bankrupt just because your daughter got so ill that you could not afford to provide for her......and for you, and the other 50 million Americans without health care, and for the remaining 250 million Americans who are denied, cut off, or capped, I have absolutely have no problem paying a little extra to try to get good care for your daughter, if you are not able to. Healthcare, unlike welfare, should be a right, not a privilege.

    April 30, 2010 at 6:49 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Aaron

    You know what the greatest failure of Western culture is and specifically America? Our failure to adopt the perspective of the real Americans (native Americans) and their reverence and respect for nature. Instead, we destroy our own environment for profit. Disgusting. And to top if off, half our population actively supports the destruction of our environment so they can lead the wasteful lifestyle they feel they are entitled to, regardless of the consequences that affect everyone. Those chanting drill baby drill needed to be dragged kicking and screaming into the light of the new century. Right?

    April 30, 2010 at 6:51 pm | Report abuse |
  7. mrrusss

    Everyone with all these drastic measures ("Stop driving if you don't want to drill", "We need to switch over to algae fuel", etc.), the last time I checked ***hole, they were still selling F150s, Excursions, Expeditions, Tahoes, Suburbans, Tundras, Titans, Silverados, etc. etc. like crazy to freaking soccer moms who need no more than a frigging car. I like having a truck. I bought a Ford Ranger. I'm fine with it because I don't have a problem with the size of my ****. It hauls stuff, tows jetskis and small boats, and if I get a construction job or a 38 foot boat, I'll get something bigger. Gradually increasing mileage standards since, say the nineties, instead of doing absolutely NOTHING, would have DRAMATICALLY reduced our need for foreign oil. So take your "stop using plastic products" and "turn off your computer if you don't like drilling" comment and pound it up your ignorant ***

    April 30, 2010 at 7:07 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Roger , Port Sulphur

    As a current oilfield worker,I can tell everyone the dangers that exist in this line of work. Major oil spills is but one of many.The big QUESTION everyone needs to ask is why didn"t the BOP Valve close when the rig shut in.Did they use faulty equipment? Did they not shut in the rig when the pressure rose too high so they could keep the oil flowing? Does anyone know the truth why they can't shut off the valve?

    April 30, 2010 at 7:11 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Kenny G

    Hey Bobby,

    How's that drill baby drill thang working for you now?

    April 30, 2010 at 7:16 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Janice L. Monigold

    I've lived in Alaska, I know for a fact, that you can go to any beach, in Southeast Alaska, dig down 10 inches and oil is STILL where the EXXON=VALDEZ, oil spilled occurred, OVER 20 years ago! Our shell fish will poison and kill you, if eaten. RIGHT now you need to take care of the wildlife, they die quick if not cleaned using Dawn dish soap. As for fishing, it's over and it took EXXON over 20 years to settle up, MY CONDOLENCES!

    April 30, 2010 at 7:20 pm | Report abuse |
  11. geraldo lemmond

    Even in the IT Industry, a Project Plan always includes an Emergency Plan if something catastrophic should happened (earthquake, hurricane, loss of city power etc).
    Apparently BP is developing theirs right now (and it wont be ready to deploy for 3 weeks) as 200,000 gallons of oil spu out into the Gulf. Why does it take events like this for American Government to open their eyes? This started a week ago.

    April 30, 2010 at 7:21 pm | Report abuse |
  12. tbrnotb

    Hey Republicans!!!!! How's that "Drill, baby, drill" working out for ya?

    April 30, 2010 at 7:24 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Jmeyer

    What would prevent them from sinking a massive chunk of rock on top of the leak? It sounds too simple to work, but in theory it would if the rock was large enough.

    April 30, 2010 at 7:26 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Jerome

    Exxon, You better be doing your part in support of this operation. God bless our troops.

    April 30, 2010 at 7:26 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Scott

    It's time for America to wake up and nationalize the energy sector. How many more coal miners and oil workers need to die in the name of corporate greed?

    April 30, 2010 at 7:32 pm | Report abuse |
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