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. Chappy

    In Europe and Brazil they are required to have blow out preventers that use remote acoustic triggers that would have prevented this disaster, The U.S. Interior Department's Minerals Management Service under Bush decided to not required the use of these devices. This was part of Cheney's secret oil deals with big oil to help insure maximum profits with deregulation at the expense of environmental concerns. The acoustic trigger equipped preventers cost about 500,000 a well. More deregulation like wall street, coal mines and others that place big business ahead of all other concerns. Don't blame the liberals when these GOP deep south politicians call for the use of these acoustic preventers or limited drilling after they see their key industries devastated by this short sighted Bush policy decision. Spill baby spill!

    May 1, 2010 at 1:34 am | Report abuse |
  2. David

    I'm LMAO at some of you people. Seriously, this is very entertaining.

    Bomb it? Lets make a giant wake with a bunch of boats? The Gulf of Mexico goes up the East Coast to New York? This stuff is priceless.

    I just hope that all of you complaining about drilling have no electricity or automobiles............I would hat to think that y'all were hypocrites.

    May 1, 2010 at 1:44 am | Report abuse |
  3. Chappy

    I love the right wing argument. If you drive a vehicle keep your mouth shut and just except what you get from big business. Don't analyse it, don't try to be smarter, don't try to move to other technologies. Just stick your head in the oil soaked sand and take it because this is the choice the oil lobby has made for you and their is nothing more to consider. The low information voter cannot lead, only follow. These oil company execs are compensated for profits not clean ups or prevention. When these large spills occur they avoid large damages and fines. Just the cost of doing business because of the lobbies they use to buy off congress. BP made over 5 billion in the first quarter of 2010 yet did not want to spend 500 grand a well to protect the Gulf coast of the United States. If you don't regulate these industries they will never do the right thing for the long term. It is all about quarterly results.

    May 1, 2010 at 1:52 am | Report abuse |
  4. David

    Chappy, you are full of it. Stop making things up to support your agenda. Both the automatic activation and manual override failed on the BOP. It's mechanical and sometimes mechanical things fail. Amazing, isn't it?

    May 1, 2010 at 1:52 am | Report abuse |
  5. David

    Again, you're making things up to support your agenda. Leave the politics out of this, it has nothing to do with it.

    May 1, 2010 at 1:59 am | Report abuse |
  6. Chappy

    Wrong David, It is in the Wall street journal, April 28th. You know, Rupert Murdoch's Wall Street Journal. I know you don't like to use facts if it counters your position. It is part of being a low information voter. The truth hurts but try it and you will be enlightened.

    May 1, 2010 at 2:01 am | Report abuse |
  7. David

    What exactly was in the wall street journal?

    May 1, 2010 at 2:05 am | Report abuse |
  8. Chappy

    David read it yourslf:

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704423504575212031417936798.html

    May 1, 2010 at 2:08 am | Report abuse |
  9. David

    Regardless of what was reported, perhaps you and the author of that piece should pick of the latest addiction of 30CFR before spouting off about things you know nothing about.

    May 1, 2010 at 2:09 am | Report abuse |
  10. David

    LOL. A remote control device would have done anything. There is an automatic device that failed and when they tried to do it manually, it failed. Are you telling me that a remote would have worked when it failed to activate manually?

    May 1, 2010 at 2:16 am | Report abuse |
  11. Chappy

    You mean regardless of the facts you want to remain clueless and blindly follow your ignorance. Well done. It seems you don't know what your talking about in the slightest.

    May 1, 2010 at 2:17 am | Report abuse |
  12. David

    LMAO! I give up. Goodnight

    May 1, 2010 at 2:20 am | Report abuse |
  13. Anirudh

    Why US is so slow in addressing the oil spill disaster. I must assert that US needs to be more reactive, should have mobilised all its resources to address this HUGE environmental calamity. It is so un-becoming of a great country to wait and watch the actions of BP, but rather help check the oil disaster on its own and when things are clear, legally sue BP. I request US to address the oil spill problem through actions and not through words ASAP, else luisiana and new merica would soon become graveyards of marine life.

    May 1, 2010 at 2:30 am | Report abuse |
  14. whatchamacalit smith

    tree huggin moon bats been dreaming of dis fo a while. dey wanted da oil spilled so dey can pass on their leftixt tree huggin bark eatin agenda so we can all commute to work wit our bicycles. aaaahh I can just see them now... hugging each other in this hour of assault on motha earth. oooooo and da big bully BP o dey are so bad. o the shocker...aah.

    May 1, 2010 at 2:46 am | Report abuse |
  15. James

    jack49 : your comment (#10) is so full of fail it's comical.

    May 1, 2010 at 3:04 am | Report abuse |
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