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. Weaseldog

    JoelC, who told you the USA is a part of OPEC and that we don't have refineries in the USA? I hope you didn't spend money on that piece of mis-education.

    I'm sure folks will still be saying that deep water drilling is completely ecologically friendly with modern equipment. They'll claim this is just an exception. A freak accident.

    In the mean time, it looks like this could kill off the life in the gulf over the coming months. If you ever wanted beach front property you'll soon have a chance to get it cheap. Just wear a gas mask for the fumes from the oil and the plankton blooms.

    April 30, 2010 at 8:14 pm | Report abuse |
  2. DingDong234

    This is all a plot to keep us from drilling. Really, like they can't fix this? I find that hard to believe in this day and age. There are safety precautions and research that has been done to avoid such catastrophes prior to drilling and plans to stanch such catastrophes should they happen. They are delaying the clean up so the current administration can retract their statement about drilling off the US coast and save face while doing so.

    April 30, 2010 at 8:14 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Ronnie Ray Jenkins

    And this just in too:

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j_H6e6shloU&w=640&h=360]

    April 30, 2010 at 8:16 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Marla

    The animals and wildlife are innocent creatures. BP should be ashamed of itself.

    April 30, 2010 at 8:17 pm | Report abuse |
  5. CS

    Step 1 (4th grade arithmetic): Stop the flow. Until that happens, all the talk and political posturing is mere gibberish.

    April 30, 2010 at 8:19 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Bob Papai

    use dredges to pump sand from the gulf floor to build a temporary barrier reef to stop the oil and eventually trap it. Once the clean up is complete the sand can all be hauled away.

    Additionally is it not possible to cap the leak with another hose much like with a mid air fueling running the line directly to a tanker until a more permanent fixture can be installed?

    April 30, 2010 at 8:27 pm | Report abuse |
  7. bill law

    hello,

    there is one solution to this problem that hasn't even been

    considered in the news. here it is:

    lower in a covered steel big drum, a massive amount of dynamite,

    and ignite it from the surface of the gulf of mexico. what what will

    happen is that it will implode downwards, because of the pressure of

    the water, and seal immediately the flowing oil.

    sounds simple? yes. but it will work, in my opinion.

    bill

    April 30, 2010 at 8:29 pm | Report abuse |
  8. John

    Yes, Obama approved drilling for oil because we citizens show no signs of reducting our own energy consumption... it's easier to blame the president.

    I don't agree with Obamas energy policy myself, he's much too timid with solar energy, but at least it's on his agenda and he certainly is not one of these gung ho "drill baby drill" lunatics.

    April 30, 2010 at 8:33 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Alex Stepanyk

    How many more examples of the Benefits of DEREGULATION will the IDIOTS who vote Republican need before they wake up? DEREGULATION gives people the green light to either steal, like the Wall Street banksters did, or cut corners, like Big Oil and the Mining Industry did. Every nation but the US (surprise!) has shut off valves on their rigs to prevent these kind of disasters. But after 8 years of Big Oil writing our nation's energy policy under Bush & Cheney, they don't have to do things like install these expensive valves. Hey, they would cut in to oil company PROFITS! And where's Sarah Dingbat? Spill Baby Spill?

    April 30, 2010 at 8:41 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Steve Ford

    So how will BP get the cost covered by us taxpayers? or will they all pitch in and do their part by raising the price of fuel again?

    April 30, 2010 at 8:44 pm | Report abuse |
  11. steve

    Since BP won't take responsibility for this mess, we should all act and boycott purchasing from BP. They are a foreign company dumping on the US.

    April 30, 2010 at 8:45 pm | Report abuse |
  12. jsafhdjsdahfjdhsafjhasdfoiu3432473284732

    The states affected by the oil spill need to file a lawsuit against the oil co and make them pay for all of the damage. This is unacceptable because a disaster plan should have been in place in case a problem like this happened. They did not have one and look at the consequences.
    I do not feel sorry for the big oil company – if they end up bankrupt because of having to pay out for the lawsuits they deserve it

    April 30, 2010 at 8:48 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Randy Johnson

    Oh well at least its 'clean' oil – not the 'dirty' oil that we produce here in the Ft. McMurry oil sands in Alberta Canada. Not much chance we are going to have any disasters like this one. Our 'tailing ponds' – (where duck land) are monitored by remote control scare guns, and everything else under the sun. But of course Mr Obama and all the other tree hugging protectionist disguised butt heads want to shut us down and 'drill baby drill'! Nope – no chance that drilling in the freeking ocean could have any problems whatsover hey!! Lets just pick on a few acres in northern Alberta no-whereville and rain on our little parade. How do your feet taste folks?

    April 30, 2010 at 8:52 pm | Report abuse |
  14. JBL

    Boycott BP, The company that is paying for the cleanup?Maybe you should wait a little while first. Think about it, this is the company that has the most opportunity to learn from their mistakes and to make sure this never happens again? They absolutely deserve consequences for their actions, but I think that they are getting plenty of those without our help. Besides, it wasn't the mistake of the company as a whole.

    April 30, 2010 at 8:56 pm | Report abuse |
  15. John

    Alex, I couildn't agree more. Republicans always scream "BIG GOVERNMENT" and SOCIALISM" if they see any attempt to regulate big business. But the truth is if you let big business reign free without rules that enforce basic ethical standards, you open the door for criminal activities and for "anything goes" business ethics. You can see the result of that everywhere. In the financial industry, insurance companies, Wall Street, in the way we destroy our environment etc. etc. Essentially in all businesses that pay out insane bonuses by engaging in criminal activities. Government has the duty to regulate businesses just enough so that criminals cannot reign free.

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