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. MMB

    I don't think people really think about what comes from oil.

    1/ gases as a byproduct (some do flare this off though – ex. natural gas(methane), propane, butane, hextane, etc. ) 2/ all hydrocarbons 3/ heating oil 4/ gasoline 5/ ALL plastic products, so no oil – no plastic (look around see if you see any plastic) .
    etc, etc, etc....

    The hydrocarbons are used extensively in everypart of industry. So when people say stop driving SUVs, that is not the big picture. No oil would mean a cease in industrial production.

    April 30, 2010 at 12:52 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Jack

    Freeze gas prices now!

    BP just reported that its profits rose to $6.08 billion from $2.56 billion in the first quarter of last year.
    Let them pay for the cleanup. God knows they have the money!

    April 30, 2010 at 12:52 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Jacob

    If you are going to make an omlette, you have to break some eggs. Any of you who think "green" energy is a reality for out countries energy addiction are fools. This is an unfortunate accident, but I bet none of you are complaining about the natural gas powered energy your pc is using to type your messages. Or the seasonal restaurant owner complaining about the gas used by tourist to get down there. If you think anything but either natural gas or killing off half the population is going solve our energy crisis, I would like to introduce to Alice...she currently resides in Wonderland.

    April 30, 2010 at 12:52 pm | Report abuse |
  4. RF

    Everyone of you poor souls commenting on this are using a computer, powered by electricity that was likely made by oil, gas, coal or nuclear energy. And the great majority of you probably arrived by car to your present location. While this accident is bad, and the aftereffects are not promising, this is no reason to denounce drilling as the great and terrible evil. I don't think BP intended for this happen and has taken every step humanly possible to prevent it. Stop drilling and producing our own energy sources? Are we going to continue to rely on the Middle East forever? At one price of gasoline will we realize that we better get on the stick and take care of ourselves....$5, $10, $15 a gallon?
    And now our illustrious President is ordering an investigation. An complete and thorough investigation would have been done anyway..by BP, it's insurers, by the USCG and by MMS ,among others. We did need the political posturing by the Presdident and others to try to find out what happened.
    Because this happened, we don't stop progressing and moving on. We try to learn from it and improve the processes. Have we banned driving cars because 35,000+ people die every year from car accidents? Have we banned commercial air travel because a plane crashes every couple of years? Have we banned surgery because a patient occasionally dies? Let's not be stupid, people!

    April 30, 2010 at 12:54 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Strategic Bob

    Jack49 – what an idiot you are! Obama's birth certificate is posted on-line. His mother was a US citizen. His birth was announced in the Hawaii paper. He is the lawfully elected President. Get over it, you racist moron. As to President Obama ordering of a review, there is far more going on than that. The Coast Guard and others, including the Navy as requested by the CG, are doing what they can. The Coast Guard did not need to be told to act – they know their jobs and don't need to be told to do them (witness the CG's performance in Katrina – saving 39K while the Bush/Brown FEMA effectively did nothing). As to having FEMA deal with the oil spill, it isn't their job, they don't have the operational or technical competency, etc. If you look at the National Response Framework and the various plans prepared thereunder you will find Emergency Support Function (ESF) 10 which deals with environmental issues. The CG and EPA are the lead federal agencies in ESF 10, not FEMA.

    April 30, 2010 at 12:55 pm | Report abuse |
  6. William Bill

    I'm going to start a non-profit organization called "Save the Shrimp" and get dues from all of the shrimp lovers out there. Then I will take that dues money and invest it with Goldman so they can work the shrimp derivatives and make even more money. Isn't life grand.

    April 30, 2010 at 12:56 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Ashley

    it's a little hard to complain when to make stuff we need to get by(clothes, homes, heat, cars...) need fuel. yes you can bike or walk but that can't get you everywhere. carpooling works but you still need gas to get around. no one wants to cut down trees so our only other source is oil to run the machines & cars we need to create things we need. medical research is risky but how else will we find cures for things like cancer? we can find "green" sources all we want but it can't totally replace oil yet. this was an accident. accidents happen that damage our earth all the time. this is just a big company that sells oil so of course it gets national headlines. what matters is how we are going to help with the cleanup efforts of this oil spill

    April 30, 2010 at 12:58 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Nana

    I love how the GOP leaders of these affect states ask for help from the federal government Where is the protest against BIG GOVERNMENT now? Its okay to have the federal government intervene when they are so desperatem Maybe Bobby should ask the tea party for help.

    April 30, 2010 at 12:59 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Mark Ellis

    Amen Bob.

    April 30, 2010 at 12:59 pm | Report abuse |
  10. boudreaux

    BP is asserting how much they're doing about the spill, but to clean up the mess will take time and money. The longer the time, the less effort and money will be put into cleaning up the mess.

    Remember the Exxon spill and that Exxon was supposed to pay 5 billion? After tons of money fighting the settlement, they ended up paying a 10th of it.

    BP is only sorry until the news stops covering the story!

    April 30, 2010 at 12:59 pm | Report abuse |
  11. MJA

    Has it definitely been ruled out, that this oil-rig explosion was caused by terrorism. If this is terrorism, there is not an oil-rig safe. Forward.

    April 30, 2010 at 1:01 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Txepsiyu

    Yo, Electric_Car_Guy, Where do you think the electricity comes from to charge up your electric matchbox toy? Bet you a dollar it is either bunker oil, natural gas or coal.

    April 30, 2010 at 1:02 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Joe

    THE ONLY WAY I, THE LITTLE MAN CAN PUNISH BP IS TO BUY MY FUEL DOWN THE STREET!

    April 30, 2010 at 1:04 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Tahoe44

    Actually....Spill Baby Spill is so yesterday as well.
    New Mantra: "Spill Baby Kill". This is a horrible life and eco disaster.

    April 30, 2010 at 1:07 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Karma Pundit

    It doesn't matter what caused the accident cause there is no accident-proof rig on this planet and accidents happen no matter what. What matters is that BP and Feds and all the organisations combined haven't been able to plug the leak or contain the spill. And that really matters cos that shows how powerless we are in front of the forces that we want to risk playing with, and how dangerous those games are and how so underprepared and helpless we stand whenever such calamities arise. It seems the money saved by not planning or investing ahead of such a calamity is much more than money spent on these farcical "contain spill" exercises.

    I support Mr. President opening up our shorelines and beaches to Oil Companies. We humans don't deserve such precious creations of nature.

    Yes, Drill Baby Drill.

    April 30, 2010 at 1:08 pm | Report abuse |
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