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. Couptaker

    Let the buck passing begin ....

    April 30, 2010 at 1:34 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Jacob

    Mitch, with all due respect, that is dumb. First off, you have no idea how many procedures and safety features these rigs have. This was not as simple as a reckless drilling, it was much more complicated then the general public knows or is capable of understanding. Secondly, how do you think electricity is generated. Renewable energy is a local fix only and cant be delivered on the scale of the US. Nuclear energy...well wait until a train or big rig wrecks with nuclear waste on it.

    April 30, 2010 at 1:35 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Mr Wrong

    I think the oil makes the water look cool

    April 30, 2010 at 1:36 pm | Report abuse |
  4. COFLZephyr

    The Louisiana Governor has mobilized the National Guard to help with the spill, control and clean-up. The debate now is who pays for this; Louisiana or Washington. This seems crazy. The cost of this should be billed to BP Petroleum and not the taxpayers. Having the tax payers at any level paying for this is just another form of corporate welfare and bailouts. BP was responsible for the wells operation, maintenance and safety. They have probably made billions off that well and need to accept the fact that they did not have adequate shut off systems (As required for off shore wells in England and Brazil) that would have allowed them to shut the well down. Clearly there were operational deficiencies or if would not have exploded to begin with. Make BP for the National Guard and not the taxpayers.

    April 30, 2010 at 1:38 pm | Report abuse |
  5. DAn

    I think that BP should be held legally responsible and that America should stand up for our kids and say no to offshore drilling! Enough is enough...have we not learned our lessons from Exxon and Valdez?

    April 30, 2010 at 1:39 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Chris Triolo

    Really enjoy all the moronic comments that are politcally charged. LEAVE THE POLITICS TO THE POLITICIANS! How about everyone tries to SUPPORT the government rather than picking 1 side and blaming the other for all things that are wrong and difficult.

    BP would have never been there if the need wasn't there for oil. And please STOP blaming Obama or Bush or whoever! Nobody would be complaining if gas and fuel oil were 50% cheaper but EVERYONE is up in arms when something goes wrong.

    Be more sensible and responsible. These comments are the EXACT reason the ENTIRE world thinks we are arrogant dummies. I am starting to agree with the rest of the world.

    Pull your heads out and stop the politics. IDIOTS!

    April 30, 2010 at 1:39 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Adam

    A few questions for BP...
    How many eco systems are you prepared to destroy in order to be able to continue to harvest this toxic resource?
    How many wars are you willing to inspire and support in order to control the supply of oil?
    How many Presidents will you encourage to lie to their citizens in order to wage these wars?
    Why aren't you cleaning your mess up?

    April 30, 2010 at 1:40 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Elizabeth

    I love how the government is totally ignorning this.
    They want to control us so badly, but they won't help us..
    I honestly feel like this country is going to crash and burn within the next three years.

    April 30, 2010 at 1:40 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Oil is Forever

    This just in: BP Chairman and CEO to meet with other oil company CEOs to decide how best to blame this disaster on the environmentalists and force the government to pay for the clean-up. Leading the meeting will be the CEO of ExxonMobile with a presentation entitled "How we got out of paying the Exxon Valdez settlements and penalties."

    April 30, 2010 at 1:42 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Curtis Means

    All I have to say to Palin and the other people who think drilling off shore is such a good idea is "Spill, baby , SPILL "

    April 30, 2010 at 1:42 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Wilmen Tavarez

    Look what irresponsibility does to the Earth and to the living beings on this planet. If you are going to drill for oil over the water, why not build a barrier where if oil is leaked, it doesnt spread across from a certain area. Approving oil drilling on the sea is careless if precautions or measures are not taking to prevent more bigger disaster. We should not be messing with oil drilling in the seas if is not done correctly. I wouldn't approve it anyway as there is always the potential of leakage. Why not better focus on alternative energy? We all know is all about the benjamins and not about what is best for the whole. Oil dependency would have been over along time ago, but greediness, lies and deception has taken the upper hand. That shall end at one point. Situations like these should makes us think about what is best for everyone and not for the few.

    April 30, 2010 at 1:43 pm | Report abuse |
  12. mike

    Note to Sarah Palin: Clean, baby, Clean!

    April 30, 2010 at 1:44 pm | Report abuse |
  13. tim

    "Drill Sarah Drill-"- you absolute NUTJOB.

    Does she get everything wrong ? Guess those 7 years in 5 colleges with a 2.0 gpa in Journalism just didn't teach her much..(.and of course the 6 months of running Alaska before "bailing out"–lol).

    Well done Republicans...make BP and the oil companies happy before you take care of American coastlines. Hey Teabaggers– what do you think now? If you even think at all....you are simply disgusting.

    April 30, 2010 at 1:46 pm | Report abuse |
  14. north of 49th

    all of a sudden , tar sands oil is not so dirty eh!!!!!!!

    April 30, 2010 at 1:46 pm | Report abuse |
  15. robert fuller

    OBAMA WANTS A REVIEW.????? HOW ABOUT AN INVESTGATION . THE COMPANY BP HAS MANY INFRACTIONS. THEY LIED AND CHEATED TO SAVE MONEY. INCREASING PROFITS. WE DON,T NEED A FREAKING REVIEW WE WANT CRIMANAL CHARGES!!!

    April 30, 2010 at 1:47 pm | Report abuse |
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