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. inNOLA

    Boycott BP!!!

    April 30, 2010 at 2:00 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Flying 747 Heavy

    Wasn't BP the same company that had oil spill issues up in Alaska 4 years ago?

    The Prudhoe Bay oil spill of 2006 caused all kinds of havok leaking over 212,000 gallons, making it the largest oil spill in Alaska's north slope. The cause of the failure was determined to be the result of poor maintenance and lack of proper pipeline inspections. In October 2007, BP Exploration pleaded guilty to neglient discharge of oil and was fined $20 million dollars.

    Perhaps BP need some serious government inspections/oversite of all it's US oil operations. Same company, same attitude towards safety, same problems. Time to change their culture.

    April 30, 2010 at 2:03 pm | Report abuse |
  3. John Dean

    Big Oils Chernobyl on nightly news. The fact that there is not a revolution in this country today has doomed it to death.

    April 30, 2010 at 2:05 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Larry Mergen

    If you like to the business channels they are all shouting: "Green Shoots" "Green Shoots" no better time than this to buy stocks!!! It just doesn't get any better than this !!! Oh what an opportunity. Oil spill, Afghanistan war, Iran war comming up, Social Security broke, mortgage collapse, Greece tanked, Portugal tanked, Spain tanked, next Ireland, German, U.K. and U.S. will tank.

    Medical system shot, education shot, states all are broke. TARP, stimulous plans, on and on and on.

    "Green Shoots"

    April 30, 2010 at 2:06 pm | Report abuse |
  5. W. Timbs

    Why didn't the Obama Administration send in the navy to help with containment of the oil spill last week. I'm afraid to know the answer because it looks like they either don't care or they are letting it happen for political reasons.

    April 30, 2010 at 2:07 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Ed McCamey

    I would think that lawyers are NOT what's most important at this point. Yes, federal government assistance may need to be involved because of the scope of the disaster – but I'd rather see some cleanup, protection, and engineering assistance long before we send in the federal lawyers.

    April 30, 2010 at 2:09 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Jay

    Come up with a home-kit to process the spill into useable gasoline and this will be cleaned up in no time and bring millions of visitors to the region

    April 30, 2010 at 2:09 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Dr.Noodles

    BP=Bag Pipes

    April 30, 2010 at 2:10 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Joe

    Even if a plane crashes and hundreds of people are killed...the rest of the planes keep on flying and nobody complains but the relatives of the victims. Seems like people care more about the earth than they do about peoples lives. DRILL BABY DRILL!!

    April 30, 2010 at 2:11 pm | Report abuse |
  10. jimb

    Drill baby drill. Don't stop now!

    April 30, 2010 at 2:12 pm | Report abuse |
  11. v. ra

    Drill baby Drill!

    April 30, 2010 at 2:13 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Scottish Mama

    Jack49 1st my heart goes out to the 11 families that have lost a loved one. Roughnecks area a rough and tough lot of men/ -President Obama does have the navy on this. Regulation to hold BP accountable and have s plan to clean up the mess should have already been in place. I wonder if Sarah Palin will now go down to clean all the animals that will have oil all over their bodies. Good pr for you Palin, pictures of you washing animals with Dawn. Dawn get ready to donate some detergent to clean the birds.
    I lived in Louisiana 30 years ago, hello James Authement, brace yourselves cajuns your livelyhoods are in jepordy. Safety in numbers, group together and sue Bp and Ocean for loss of wages for the year, bring in your previous pay records. Band together with 1 lawyer, class action suit. But our gas will go up, to pay for their sins.
    Breaking up the large corporations will be the middle class salvations.
    Shop local. Eat grass fed Cows.No milk that has steroids.Free range chickens. Support local farmers. Chemically engineered soy beans are bad for our farmers. Let local seeders make your seed for next year. Use less gas. Buy [demand] only cars that are hybrids or electric. Cut salt from your diet and use less sugar. All our health problems will lessen.Solar and wind, off grid or meterd. Don't let the electric companies legislate away the rights of people on this subject.Regulation of companies not people who use it.

    April 30, 2010 at 2:13 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Fe Blanche`

    I am from S. Louisiana and know a bit of history of off shore oil production impact in the State. We bagan to lose our coast as early as the 1950's, due to the fact that every platform erected in GoM needed an inland pipeline, dredging began in the wetlands which lead to salt water intrusion causing cascading failures into fresh water enviroment. At the peak of off shore platforms, 800, Louisiana was losing coast line at the rate of one Parish yearly. Most folk don't know this La. has one of the longest coastlines in lower 48. Oil is BIG buisness here, almost everyone I've met has had an oil related employ. It's time to rethink our oil dependance and move toward safer transport models. Although I'm about 150 miles from spill, the wind is gusting from the south and can smell oil fumes.

    April 30, 2010 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
  14. John

    Kick BP out of the country!

    April 30, 2010 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
  15. The Guru

    Looks like the "Drill baby, drill" mantra has turned to "Spill baby, spill".

    April 30, 2010 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
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