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. JBL

    Sorry John the last comment was to Stosh 59. Anyway, I agree with you that laws do not stop people from committing crime. I was not saying that. Law are created with the purpose of restraining evil though. This is only effective when tied to deterrence such as jail/prison, a system of retribution, and rehabilitative efforts on criminals. What you refer to are simply the breaking of social norms that may or may not be deemed as criminal. A basic form of bullying like this is better handled privately though.I DO NOT believe that if laws are not broken that everything is "peachy". However government is not the solution. Once government overruns its check and balances instated, it tries to gain more and more power. Ultimately, socialism under control never ends under control.

    April 30, 2010 at 10:19 pm | Report abuse |
  2. vik

    Where is TransOcean in all of this?

    April 30, 2010 at 10:20 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Anne

    So many posts are about the oil companies, the White House, gas prices...only about how this disaster affects people and our purses. I feel that the most tragic victims of this oil spill are the countless animals that will be killed. The deaths of these creatures cannot be reversed nor can BP compensate anyone for their lost lives. I praise those who will work to clean oil off of the birds and valiantly labor to save as many animals and ecosystems as possible.

    April 30, 2010 at 10:20 pm | Report abuse |
  4. cheryl

    What a sad event ..Why not just relax and let the big chiefs do their jobs.

    April 30, 2010 at 10:22 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Beth

    Instead of talking about who is to blame politically, perhaps we should realize what poor stewards of the earth we are, we–meaning ALL of us humans. Not democrats or republicans, HUMANS. We were given the garden of Eden and we don't even appreciate it because we are so busy stuffing our faces, lining our wallets and feeding our vices. I pray for this to be remedied, and fast. I pray for all the animals and creatures of nature we will lose, and most, I pray that at some point humans will realize what is really important and start taking better care of that which we should hold dear.

    April 30, 2010 at 10:23 pm | Report abuse |
  6. RWTB

    Chris is correct ‚Äď a lot of politically charged comments posted to date, and I‚Äôll add that not many fact based statements and constructive ideas as pointed out my Ma Belle.

    One of the cardinal rules of change management is to constructively address the behavior and not personally and unconstructively attack the individuals involved, and especially not the 11 members of the drilling crew that lost their lives in this tragic accident.

    This is both a safety tragedy and pending environmental disaster. Eleven lost lives. Imminent coastal marine damage. Fishing industry impact. Nobody wants this. Not BP. Not Transocean. Not the government. Not the families of the lost workers. Not the American people. Not me ‚Äď I have spent many summers on the beautiful beaches east of Pensacola Florida. This accident has however already happened.

    What is important now is to fix the problem, understand the root causes of the problem, and then to develop even better processes and technology to mitigate or eliminate the chances of this happening again.

    Fix The Problem:

    BP, like all companies in the industry, developed a comprehensive spill response plan coordinated with local agencies and national regulators in advance of this accident. That response plan is being implemented now together with the Coast Guard, MMS, Department of Interior, EPA, Federal and local fish and wildlife agencies. The magnitude of this response in size and scope is unprecedented in the history of the industry. This is a fact, and without dispute as many of the misinformed commentators above have suggested.

    Marshall, Keith, and others had a good idea to suck up the oil as it comes out the [riser] pipe under the sea. Indeed workers right now are manufacturing a giant dome that can be placed over the BOP to capture the leaking oil. Unfortunately that dome will not be ready for 2-4 weeks, and the concept has never been tested at such deep water depths of 5000 ft.

    Let‚Äôs only hope that the remote operated vehicles (ROV), e.g. ‚Äúsubs‚ÄĚ, are successful in actuating the BOP valves to close before then. Last Sunday the Coast Guard reported that this might be done in 24-36 hours. Obviously something else is wrong and is not yet clearly understood, because the shut-off valves remain open.

    Understand the problem:

    It is still unknown why the BOP did not close. The engineering and scientific review will provide that information.

    Aaron ‚Äď you can find out more about BOP‚Äôs online at Cameron.com, FMC.com, and GE.com, who are several of the leading manufactures for the industry. These are the safest, most modern BOPs available. You can find out more about the diving ROVs used at Oceaneering.com. Oceaneering uses some of the same technology from these diving ROVs that is deployed in the NASA space program. Indeed Oceaneering is designing the next generation astronaut space suit for NASA.

    NMGUY suggest a very good idea that I have not heard before ‚Äď ‚ÄúIts also possible the BOP functioned initially but the sinking rig dislodged it when it hit bottom.‚ÄĚ

    Jim is misinformed about the U.S. BOP requirements. The BOPs used by Transocean are industry standard and state of the art. There is an alternative BOP actuator known as an ‚Äúacoustic trigger‚ÄĚ which is in use in Norway and more recently in Brazil. The acoustic trigger is a tertiary mechanism, which means that it is the third line of defense after the primary shut-off device, and secondary back-up closure actuator.

    There is one not so small detail ‚Äď acoustic triggers have only been tested in simulation. They have never been used to close a BOP during an actual blowout. It is not known that even if installed on this BP well, whether the acoustic waves would be able to successfully trigger the device at the significant water depth of 5,000 ft.

    All BOPs have a primary shut-off switch, which is located in the drilling control center, within easy reach of the lead driller. BP recently interviewed the crew of the Transocean rig. It is still unknown whether the driller actuated the BOP closure switch, and the valve failed to close, or perhaps whether the blowout ignited and the blast immediately killed the drillers before the primary valve actuator switch could be reached by a person.

    All BOPs have a secondary shut of mechanism, which are also know as a ‚Äúdead man‚ÄĚ device. This secondary backup valve is a ‚Äúnormally closed‚ÄĚ valve. This means that some form of power is required to temporarily open the valve. When power or ‚Äúcommunication‚ÄĚ with the drilling rig is cut off, then this valve automatically closes. Think of a screen door on a house, which requires a person to ‚Äúforce‚ÄĚ it open, and then automatically closes when one removes their hand.

    Improve the process and technology:

    JBL from Pensacola makes some good points.

    It is still unknown why the BOP did not close. The engineering and scientific review will provide information that will suggest better adherence to an existing process, or the need for a better process, and/or the need for new technological improvements. Man is capable of remotely controlling satellites from earth, but there have been several tragic accidents in the evolution of space science and technology. The same holds for energy generation, and the miracle of modern medical science, and history.

    JLM makes some good points. We will all eventually get through this together, and the world will eventually be a better place to live in because of it although that is less than obvious today.

    Luis makes some good factual points. A Ford Focus for the record is not however a zero emission vehicle as stated by Luis. The gasoline part of the Focus hybrid generates hydrocarbon emissions. The electricity part of the ‚Äúzero emission‚ÄĚ vehicle is generated from power plants that primarily burn coal, oil, natural gas, with the exception of those that are nuclear or hydroelectric. Solar and wind generation only accounts for roughly 1% of U.S. energy consumption today.

    April 30, 2010 at 10:28 pm | Report abuse |
  7. roy

    louisiana is my home, the oil companies have dug canals thru our marshes for the past few decades which has all but destroyed the marsh. Look at old maps of the SE louisiana coast. The canals also allowed storm surge to rush in and further the destruction – they are directly responsible for what has happened, this used to be the most bountiful and beatiful place in the world and in the last 50 years the Federal govt and the oil industries have ravaged us. This is the final blow, the ultimate kick in the face when we we were finally getting everything moving again after the most recent Federal disaster – when they cut corners and built weak ineffective levees using OUR taxes, then pocketed the difference, then the levees crumbled – THEY WERE NOT OVERTOPPED BY HIGH WATER! a true garden of eden is a delicate thing, we in louisiana have been invaded by outside forces and robbed of a beautiful, unique, independent and fully self sufficient lifestyle – THIS IS INTENTIONAL – THEY WANT US TO BE SLAVES TO THE SYSTEM, TO BE DEPENDENT SO THEY ARE DESTROYING OUR LAND AND WAY OF LIFE....
    by the way, the oil profits go to Texas and foreign countries – before anyone makes a snide comment

    April 30, 2010 at 10:28 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Alex Stepanyk

    JBL, nice attempt to confuse the issue with that "rules vs. regulations" nonsense. The results of irresponsible DEREGULATION and even NON REGULATION are all around you. We DEREGULATED WALL STREET by taking away the REGULATIONS that kept the banks from taking our money and gambling it away, and LOOK WHAT HAPPENED. OPEN YOUR EYES, PEOPLE. During the eight years of Bush Cheney, the oil companies actually WROTE OUR NATION'S ENERGY POLICY. That is not a talking point; it's a FACT. So why should anyone be surprised at there being no mandatory shut off valves to prevent these types of spills and NO PLAN FOR RESPONDING TO SUCH A DISASTER. The Big Oil moguls who wrote our energy policy weren't interested in even discussing such a disaster. Now if there were some people from say, the EPA at those secret Bush-Cheney Energy meetings, MAYBE things would be different, But these guys were interested in making the MOST MONEY and spending the LEAST to do so, and NOBODY was there to REGULATE THEM. Same with the Mining Industry. No Regulation = Dead Miners. But the GOP will always keep preaching no REGULATION because they are getting big bucks to do so. Ok, I can understand that! What I CAN'T understand is supposedly RATIONAL REGULAR AMERICANS SUPPORTING THAT CRAP!

    April 30, 2010 at 10:30 pm | Report abuse |
  9. paul

    i THOUGHT MISS SARAH POLLY WAS FROM NEWFOUNDLAND, I DIDN,T KNOW SHE WAS FROM ALASKA, NO WONDER SHE CAN SEE THE KREMLIN FROM HER CABIN ON TOP OF THE OLD WHITE MOUNTAIN A LITTLE SOUTH EAST OF NOME, I WONDER IF SHE KNEW JOHNNY HORTON???UP THERE OR SAM McCORD

    April 30, 2010 at 10:33 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Alex Stepanyk

    RWTB, although it is obvious that you at least KNOW a few things, your contention that just because the acoustic trigger devices may not have worked is NOT AN EXCUSE FOR OUR WELLS NOT TO HAVE THEM. The ONLY REASON our wells do not have every possible state of the art shut off device on them is because they are NOT REQUIRED TO HAVE THEM. And why are our wells not required to have them? Because oil company lobbyists who RAN OUR ENERGY POLICY FOR THE PAST EIGHT YEARS DIDN'T WANT THEM. And why would they NOT want these devices? Because they cost MONEY, that's why. See, when you go around screaming Drill Baby Drill but your drills are not equipped with the latest equipment, you are perpertating a SCAM on the American people.

    April 30, 2010 at 10:38 pm | Report abuse |
  11. JBL

    RWTB, thanks for the informative post and the soft responses to things disagreed with. From a scientific stand, you know what you are talking about.

    April 30, 2010 at 10:39 pm | Report abuse |
  12. shane

    Maybe Biden should tell Obama. THIS IS A BIG F*Ck*ng DEAL!!!!!!!!!!

    April 30, 2010 at 10:56 pm | Report abuse |
  13. LSmith

    I think it will be difficult to use the giant dome until the kinked riser and drillpipe is removed from the top of the BOP.They might try using a casing cutter mounted to a ROV
    to "shoot "the riser from the top of the BOP. The cutters are used every day in the oilfield to recover casing in P&A operations.They are shaped charges that can be shot from the surface by way of the ROV wireline connection.This way the cutter can be controlled and the riser cut and fall out of the way.Then the gaint dome could be lowered on the BOP and oil lifted with downhole electric pumps per normal operations.
    It will be diffucult to drill a relief well quickly and hit a target the 7.65 production casing then remove the mud motor and install a mill and cut a window,then remove the mill and bullhead cement into the leaking borehole-3.5 miles below the surface.

    April 30, 2010 at 10:59 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Tim Bailey

    Could woodchippings soak up the oil on the sea by being dropped and maybe agitated on the sea surface then the oily woodchips be scooped up? You would not want to include heavier chippings which might carry oil down with gravity to harm the sea floor marine ecosystems. This might mean larger ships such as the Navy than to skim just oily water.

    Could there be some thing that, like a bathroom / kitchen sealant, would harden while floating on a sea surface, that hardens without use of, without containing any chemicals, that could then be lifted off the sea surface in lumps or sheets, containing the oil? Or other substances that harden, yet floating on and in water? Sealant in particular dries after application and hardens whether you use the shower during the days after. Maybe there are all sorts of harmless substances that thicken and or harden that could be used.

    Maybe the use of some substance that acts as a thickening agent. Like cornflour thickens in cooking, some other substance that thickens could be used, that is not a food so that animals have no desire to eat it. A paste could be made to thicken on the sea surface and after a few hours then be scooped off. If some reached shores, it would be a sludge, less perniciously sticky than pure oil, which may wipe off creatures better, and be less awful a thing for them, keeping some of the oil from getting in them.

    Another idea might be to add raising agent to the woodchippings like it is added in baking, which could add a great deal of air bubbles to the oil, so that it does much less environmental damage. It would be full of air, so would impact far less, on creatures' feathers and on creatures and land surfaces in general.

    Note: Just because a suggestion has not been heard of by experts, and may have never been heard of in the entire history of the use of oil, means nothing. A historical lack of funding, in so many areas of life, means that what would have been known, tried and tested, sensible ideas, remain undeveloped and unheard of, and dismissed as rubbish just when they most need to be tried.

    Chemicals to disperse the oil means the devastation is focussed on the fish and marine life and creatures out at sea.

    April 30, 2010 at 11:09 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Schopel

    Imagine if some of the "Black Ops" technology was released. David Wilcock recently wrote on one of his posts that the Rockefeller faction has 6000 patients they have either bought off, killed for, stoled, or threatened for that would change our reality in a heart beat, over night.
    On the other hand we are supposed to get all fired up because there may be oil drilling off the US East coast. People, don;'t lose any sleep over this whirl, twirl and spin. Propaganda at the highest levels.

    April 30, 2010 at 11:12 pm | Report abuse |
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