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. David

    "Drill baby drill" Ha, more like "kill baby kill".

    April 30, 2010 at 7:33 pm | Report abuse |
  2. G Lemon in PDX

    BYW, this exact event happened in the Gulf of Mexico on June 3, 1979. The 2nd largest American Oil spill at the time. It was called Ixtoc I , and it too an exploratory oil well in the Gulf of Mexico.
    You would think that Drilling Technology has been upgraded since. Maybe BP could get a hold of that 30 year old 'How To Guide'.

    April 30, 2010 at 7:37 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Hope

    WHERE is Obama: Why hasn't he shown his face down in the Gulf Coat to reassure us? WHERE is he? .....ten days and counting.........

    April 30, 2010 at 7:41 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Jnan R. Saha

    Environmentalists are concerned about dangers to Wildlife because of the Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Everyone should be concerned about that. But I see absolutely no one is looking at the big picture, danger to the Planet and to Mankind. This spill will kill Planktons in millions of square miles areas of the Ocean. The Planktons are at the bottom of food chain. One kind, Phytoplanktons absorb CO2 and release O2 by Photosynthesis. Because of lack of Phytoplanktons acidity of Ocean is rising. The Environmentalist should go to college and take and study Marine Biology. In that case they will have complete understanding about the causes of Acidity and its impact on the Planet.
    I can cite one example the ‚ÄúPlanet Venus‚ÄĚ a few billion years ago it had Atmosphere like that of Earth!!

    April 30, 2010 at 7:50 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Thomas

    Vajon mi√©rt nem sz√≥lnak a hirad√°sok arr√≥l, hogy mi√©rt t√∂rt√©nt a robban√°s az olajf√ļr√≥ szigeten.

    April 30, 2010 at 7:56 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Haley in AL

    I wonder if any "Drill Baby Drill" politicians will have the balls to come forward and recant their statements? My guess is no one will admit they made a mistake by rushing to judgment. Trying to solve an oil crisis with more oil is like beating a dead horse. I live in Alabama and I am completely broken-hearted about this environmental catastrophe. Our coast was stunning, with sandy white beaches and emerald green water. Looks like I'll have to get used to lying on gray beaches and watch dead animals wash ashore while staring out at a sea of crude oil.

    "Every asshole who ever chanted 'Drill Baby Drill' should have to report to the Gulf Coast today for clean-up duty." – Bill Maher

    April 30, 2010 at 7:57 pm | Report abuse |
  7. joelc

    The drilling crowd forgets one thing. The oil that is pumped is sold on the open market. We are a part of OPEC, so our oil goes on the OPEC market. The U.S. lacks the refinary capacity to convert the oil to gasoline, so we have to buy gas on the open market. Much of it is manufactured and shipped from overseas markets.

    Drilling will not relinquish us from dependency from foreign markets. It will destroy our ecosystems and multi-billion dollar tourism markets. The situation is worsened by the lack of accountability and regulation of the oil companies that drill in our oceans. BP was exempt from the regulations that could have prevented this disaster from occurring.

    April 30, 2010 at 7:58 pm | Report abuse |
  8. wowlfie

    May the Zeus summon the largest ever hurricane and hurl it at New Orleans and maybe once and for all will be done with that scum of a city. With the 25 foot surge and oil plastered all over the state that will make them think twice about rebuilding in a swamp where man shouldn't be in the first place.

    April 30, 2010 at 8:00 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Fred Flintstone

    Everyone of you missed the root cause. There's too many friggin people. Is that a subject we just can't talk abot?

    April 30, 2010 at 8:06 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Early Salter

    The Shad{Menhadden} fishery season just started in April {normally April-October} and you can bet that these fishermen and their families are going to feel the hurt off of this mishap.............And what a shame for the wild animals in the region. I hope they really concentrate on getting it cleaned up ASAP!

    April 30, 2010 at 8:07 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Larry

    This might actually do our oceans in. There is no way they're going to get that thing capped anytime soon. It's in 5,000 ft of water.

    April 30, 2010 at 8:08 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Ron

    I love how these Republican Governors call everything under the sun "socialism" and then cry for help from the big bad evil government when they need it. Maybe it's socialism when it helps someone else and just a nice neighborly helping hand when it helps them.

    April 30, 2010 at 8:10 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Elizabeth

    Jack 49 = imbisal

    April 30, 2010 at 8:10 pm | Report abuse |
  14. barry mcCluskey

    those in the know do know that these drilling platforms are an accident in waiting.with
    the number out there its almost inevitable.
    despite the hugh profits the oil companys make,there seems to be no plan set up to
    cap off these deep sea wells.surely there must have a think tank in case of just an event.
    in a alien enviroment some sub marine rescue or disaster plan should be opperational,
    instead we have these multibillion dollar corporation brains scratching heads. for me its sheer lunacy.the financial cost to bt and the likes will far exceed any monies used for research and a viable plan of action.the poor natives human and animal life now need to bear the tragic results of there greed and neivaty

    April 30, 2010 at 8:11 pm | Report abuse |
  15. drdoom

    There is risk in everything we do. How much risk are we willing to take (or stomach?) This and other disasters show that in general our federal and states governments do not have the capabilities or resources or are ready to deal with them. When the really big one happens we better be ready to deal with it by ourselves. WOLVERINES!! The chair is against the wall

    April 30, 2010 at 8:12 pm | Report abuse |
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