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

    Tim Bailey, I agree, dispersing the oil only damages a wider area though possibly to a lesser degree. A similar idea to the ones posted would work if there was not so much oil. Also, I would imagine that since oil is less dense than water that we should already not have too much trouble scooping it off of the surface. (forgive my previous statement of the opposite [oil & water]).

    April 30, 2010 at 11:19 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Tim

    If we (Republicans) keep creating these adversities for the democratic president, we'll surely gain a few seats come Nov.

    April 30, 2010 at 11:27 pm | Report abuse |
  3. bn

    Drilling deep in the Gulf is the cutting edge of petroleum technology. They barely have the expertise to get there. Handling problems is a whole new and unknown realm for which there is little to no knowlege.

    April 30, 2010 at 11:37 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Ryan

    If an offshore wind turbine collapsed, it would sink and that would be that. Ecological impact would be maybe 10 dead fish.

    April 30, 2010 at 11:38 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Steven

    The issue is not where to place blame,but how to keep the goop from coming ashore. With all of the brilliant minds out there, you would think someone would kwow how to contain it.
    There are many oil absorbing products out there, one being as simple as clay.The oil industry used tons of bentonite,a highly absorbant clay. Flyovers ,dropping powdered clay binds up the oil and sinks it to the bottom before it reaches shore, There are also oil absorbing polymers. Why are they not using these? Looks to me that they are just stirring it upwith there skimmers. They could contain it they would just just use thier brains,and do their job.

    April 30, 2010 at 11:46 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Tim

    This is similar to a war, it's good for the economy, and great for the GOP.

    April 30, 2010 at 11:54 pm | Report abuse |
  7. JBL

    Tim...Yeah its good until all oil companies take advantage of this and raise gas prices. Then, once BP goes under thousands of jobs will be lost.

    May 1, 2010 at 12:00 am | Report abuse |
  8. BSH

    5 years from now the Republicans will tell us how this spill caused additional global warming, cancer, etc.

    It is a bad situation and feel sorry for anyone or living thing is affected. I am just thankful I do not work for BP – the Exxon of the 21st century!

    May 1, 2010 at 12:09 am | Report abuse |
  9. carey

    days upon days knowing the situation that looms–dont wait!! make this top priority!! too many things at stake - so sad.

    May 1, 2010 at 12:17 am | Report abuse |
  10. Caron

    Sarah Palin and Rush Limbaugh are jokes - pathetic jokes. They chant "drill, baby, drill - drill, baby, drill - then when it results in a catastrophic environmental disaster, they say its Obama's Katrina. The guy is utterly pathetic and transparent. Who in their right minds would listen to such idiotic hypocrisy? I guess probably the guy who posted that "if we republicans keep creating such adversities for Obama, he'll lose in November." Sick puppies. Very sick puppies these republicans.

    May 1, 2010 at 12:17 am | Report abuse |
  11. JBL

    Republicans saying this BSH? I will bet Al Gore has already jumped all over this.

    May 1, 2010 at 12:20 am | Report abuse |
  12. laresident

    After reading a few of these comments I can see why our country is headed in a downward spiral. There are a lot of people in this country that are eaten up with the dumbass.

    May 1, 2010 at 12:25 am | Report abuse |
  13. Calvin

    You're such freakin idiots if you condem the drilling for oil and then use it...like a lush....like the moronic idiots we all are! I don't like this spill as much as anyone else – it sucks...but it also sucks to walk to work. So unless you pedal or walk to work or whatever else you don't need to do...face it – you ARE addicted to what spills into the Gulf so keep your assinine mouth shut until you aren't...fools!

    May 1, 2010 at 12:33 am | Report abuse |
  14. scaryworld

    Obama and Napolitano were far too busy criticizing Arizona for doing the job the federal government won't do. Obama was also participating in his union packed townhalls, Wow, over a week later ,,, arrival of people with no expertise; endles press conferences. We need someone who has actually had leadership experience. Earlier intervention may have prevented it from reaching shore.

    We still need to drill. You don't quit because of a big mistake.

    May 1, 2010 at 12:47 am | Report abuse |
  15. BoPeep

    If we're going to do this, and no doubt we will continue to pillage the planet, we have to be prepared for disaster, boots on the ground, not just damage control! Too little, too late! Poor, dear, beautiful Gulf!

    May 1, 2010 at 12:53 am | 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