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. Brad

    I'm as capitalist as anyone, but enough of the mine and drilling disasters!

    We need to accelerate electrification of our transportation system and conversion of our power grid to nukes and renewables. If the oil and gas industries had to pay for the true costs (disaster response) of the products we all rely on, the price of nuclear and renewables would look much more attractive.

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

    You have to wonder whether God wants a new energy policy. With this oil spill getting ready to devastate the Gulf Coast, threating thousand of his creatures, people's livlihoods, the economy and damage to the coastline; in addition to the 50 plus lives taken in the past couple of months due to oil refinery explosions, platform fires and mine disasters. It makes me scratch my head.

    I pray that God will provide our elected officials the wisdom to make the right decisions.

    Oh, and let us not forget the thousand of soldiers lives that have been affected fighting for oil in the Middle East. May God be with you.

    April 30, 2010 at 1:10 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Niki K

    All I know is that I live about 75 miles from Venice, LA in the suburbs of NOLA and you can smell it, that is all you smell in the air is oil. We have way more to worry about than drill baby drill, we have our coast & our wildlife, and for some people their very survival. At this point I could care less who does it Democrat, Republican, Liberal, BP, Transocean, just FIX IT, stop the d@mn oil flow!!!

    April 30, 2010 at 1:11 pm | Report abuse |
  4. john Orange County Calif

    Why aren't the Republicans calling for more drilling...."Drill baby Drill"....I haven't heard a peep ....why not....or are they too busy with the Hispanics in Arizona right now....I keep waiting for the next group of people they want to go after....for their "Big Tent"....

    April 30, 2010 at 1:11 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Bridger

    You have to wonder whether God wants a new energy policy. With this oil spill getting ready to devastate the Gulf Coast, threating thousand of his creatures, people's livlihoods, the economy and damage to the coastline; in addition to the 50 plus lives taken in the past couple of months due to oil refinery explosions, platform fires and mine disasters. It makes me scratch my head.

    I pray that God will provide our elected officials the wisdom to make the right decisions.

    Oh, and let us not forget the thousand of soldiers lives, and their families, that have been affected by our oil policy in the Middle East. May God be with you.

    April 30, 2010 at 1:11 pm | Report abuse |
  6. bob

    this es horrrable!!!!! ZOMG!!!!!!!

    April 30, 2010 at 1:12 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Lee

    Bush and his oil buddies let all the regulations on oil drilling laspe or allowed the safety measures to implimented by the oil companies. This went on for 8 years now its up to the Obama administration to clean up a mess again

    April 30, 2010 at 1:13 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Steven

    You have got to be kidding me. "Who is going to pay for the cleanup of this oilspill? The federal govt or the state of Luoisiana?" This seems a no brainer to me. The oil company that made the mess!

    April 30, 2010 at 1:15 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Sam

    BP=Broken Pipes

    April 30, 2010 at 1:17 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Mitch Connor

    The oil companies could care less; they don't have a procedure because they know that they can pass on all the expenses to we, the consumers. We moan and grown about gas prices while we are at the pump filling up the tank (we all do it). With oil companies it's all about control, look at all the commercials from Exxon Mobile (developing new forms of energy). They are developing new forms because they bought the patents with their large bank accounts and now that there is movement for electric cars and such they will be in the frontlines controlling that. We all know that they'll prolong that as long as possible. The only way to be dependent from these big oil companies is if we the people fund companies who have the motivation to only develop new energy for the sole purpose of freeing us from coal, oil, and n. gas and that is to probably rare and too good to be true.

    April 30, 2010 at 1:18 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Patrick T. Holmes

    Somehow it's Bush's fault. Any conspiricy nuts out there thinking the racist Repulicans did it to derail Obama?

    April 30, 2010 at 1:21 pm | Report abuse |
  12. truly informed

    drill baby drill right?

    April 30, 2010 at 1:25 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Brent

    We must do anything to protect our shores. We should have every fishing boat(or larg boat) start from point of contact and produce a wake that would push it out to the Gulf. With all of the harbors and boat fleets that we have on the Gulf Coast we should have plenty of boats to do the job. People that joined in with this effort would be paid for time,labor, and gas. BP would save money compared to what they are going to have to spend to clean this mess up.

    April 30, 2010 at 1:31 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Diana

    Jack49 – "Imbecile" is the way you spell the word. However, you obviously are one so you are excused. Too bad however that you are in the gene pool!!

    April 30, 2010 at 1:32 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Sam

    One way or another, we are all to blame! Bottom Line! It's not about what could have or what should have been done, it's now about what we do now. A wise man said that a man is measured by what he does not for what he has, and that's what's wrong with our world.....we are greedy people who measure eachother by what we have.

    April 30, 2010 at 1:33 pm | Report abuse |
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