May 2nd, 2010
09:09 AM ET

Salazar: Oil spill 'massive' and a potential catastrophe

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Interior Secretary Ken Salazar on Sunday called the Gulf of Mexico oil spill from a destroyed rig "massive" and a potential catastrophe.

"It potentially is catastrophic," Salazar said on CNN's "State of the Union" program. "I think we have to prepare for the worst." Salazar said later in the program that "it is indeed a massive oil spill."

Asked what happened, Salazar said there was a failure in the technology that is intended to prevent a so-called blowout.

"There is no doubt at all here that that what has happened is the blowout prevention mechanism at the bottom of the well ... is defective," Salazar said.

"While there have been blowouts in the past, we have never seen anything that has been quite of this magnitude."

The Obama administration has ordered inspections of "blowout preventers" on other Gulf rigs, Salazar said. He noted that BP, which operated the destroyed rig, is legally responsible for the spill and any resulting damage.

"So our job is to keep the boot on the neck of" BP to ensure it meets its obligations, Salazar said.


Filed under: Gulf Coast Oil Spill
soundoff (32 Responses)
  1. greggish

    –"So our job is to keep the boot on the neck of" BP to ensure it meets its obligations, Salazar said.–

    No. Your job is protect our country.

    Contrary to what the President says, the ultimate responsibility for this spill & resulting devastation does not fall with BP. The responsibility lies with our government that allowed our waters & country to be put in jeopardy.

    May 2, 2010 at 11:23 am | Report abuse |
  2. Suncatcher

    Let's see, in the past 2 weeks we have:

    – car bomb in Times Square
    – largest water main in Massachusetts breaks – leaving 2 million without potable water; days to repair; the pipe is less than 7 years old
    – 3 to 4 bomb threats left in airliner restrooms causing diversions
    – a massive oil rig explosion that now threatens all of the Gulf and most of Florida – including the East coast

    Hmmmmm.....

    May 2, 2010 at 12:03 pm | Report abuse |
  3. LindaAlex

    It’s looking to be the worst US ecological disaster – Blame should first be with the lobbyists who were able to pay their way to allow the United States to wave the need of shut-off valves for these oil rigs. Some countries, like Brazil, did not bow to oil industry pressures and require stricter safety measures. They used their brain and not their pocketbook. Next, we need to look at the US government officials who allowed these lobbyists to have their way. These government officials should be ousted. How do the Republicans feel now that they wouldn’t act on a clean energy bill unless oil drilling was included? Could this be the reason why the clean energy bill that was to be brought to the floor of the Senate last Monday, 26th April was cancelled? And then Graham blamed it on something else. Amazing! Does it take a disaster of this magnitude to change the corrupt government ways? Time will tell, but I won't hold my breath.

    May 2, 2010 at 12:26 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Alan

    I find the level of information REALLY LOW on this event, a few ireport stuff, same video for 24 hours ? Nobody on site ? What is going on ?

    May 2, 2010 at 12:39 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Tim Outlaw

    This is a huge disaster for our country and mainly the gulf coast, but rest assured even if the government is wanting to distance themselves from this gulf coast natives WILL volunteer in great numbers.

    May 2, 2010 at 1:34 pm | Report abuse |
  6. B Hawkins

    I have read a lot of articles about this and have yet to see one single report about how they will STOP the leak. I worst fear is that no one has any idea about what to do.

    May 2, 2010 at 5:27 pm | Report abuse |
  7. magyart

    The Gulf of Mex. will suffer one of the largest man made ecological disasters we have ever seen. The no. one priority is to STOP the FLOW of OIL.

    The southern border is the site of another grand, man made disaster. The no. one priority should be STOP the ILLEGAL ALIENS. We do not need comprehensive immigration reform, to secure the border.

    Visit the NumbersUSA website and help fight illegal immigration.

    May 2, 2010 at 10:06 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Gizmo Fester

    We need to seal the leaking well ASAP. There IS a FAST and simple way to do it but we won't. A 50-70 kiloton enhanced tactical warhead would seal the well and the mile of seawater would contain the fallout very effectively. We won't do it though beacuse we're too frightened of nuclear explosives to view then as useful TOOLS. We insist on viewing them as weapons.

    May 2, 2010 at 11:45 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Gizmo Fester

    Spelling corrected: We need to seal the leaking well ASAP. There IS a FAST and simple way to do it but we won't. A 50-70 kiloton enhanced tactical warhead would seal the well and the mile of seawater would contain the fallout very effectively. We won't do it though beacuse we're too frightened of nuclear explosives to view them as useful TOOLS. We insist on viewing them only as weapons.

    May 3, 2010 at 12:32 am | Report abuse |
  10. jlsjmg

    Gizmo.....Really bright. Nuke the wellhead !! Suppose the it does not seal the gusher. Suppose instead the nuke makes the leak massively worse ??? !! Maybe it even opens up a fault line on the seabed and releases all the oil in the reserve at once. You have no idea what you are talking about. I am surely glad you are not one of the BP decision makers on this.

    May 3, 2010 at 12:59 am | Report abuse |
  11. jlsjmg

    (Corrections) Gizmo.....Really bright. Nuke the wellhead !! Suppose the tacticle nuke does not seal the gusher? Suppose instead the nuke makes the leak massively worse ??? !! Maybe it even opens up a fault line on the seabed and releases all the oil in the reserve at once. You have no idea what you are talking about. I am surely glad you are not one of the BP decision makers on this. (

    May 3, 2010 at 1:03 am | Report abuse |
  12. jesse

    I think Gizmo got my attention,Nuke just might be the answer be use high power bombs on the surface of the ocean this will atomize the oil particles but not impact the ocean bottom the bombs do not have enough fire to reach the bottom sea floor.Remember were are talking about one mile of water approx 5000ft

    May 3, 2010 at 1:18 am | Report abuse |
  13. jlsjmg

    Jesse.....Oh that's great.. an airburst nuke. Most of the heavy oil is way below the surface. Why not create a nuclear cloud to drift over the already decimated southern states to increase the the pollution to include nuclear radiation and further demoralize the people there and poison them after they were blown away by Katrina and befouled by the oil. How stupid can you get or insane can you be. Disgusting comment.... really!!!!

    May 3, 2010 at 1:28 am | Report abuse |
  14. Mr. Leslie Spaiser

    Two comments:

    ONE – there has been a lot of hysteria about the actual oil leak (not the efforts to ameliorate the damage) but I have seen little detail about the actual facts concerning ways to stop it (just something about BP having the only deep sea robotic submersibles to deal with this). It sounds like nonsense since highly advanced submersibles for research have been in use for years at universities involved in deep sea research. Why haven’t they called in the deep ocean experts if BP’s oil experts can do nothing? I haven’t heard anything about Scripps or Woods Hole ships on their way.

    TWO – BP’s responsibility extends not only to the costs of containment and the cleanup, but also to the lost incomes and opportunities for the residents of the coast they are now facing and will continue to face, until IF and WHEN the situation returns to normal. IF the coast fisheries etc. are destroyed they owe the total amount lost now and FOREVER MORE. It’s tough their cutoff valve didn’t work, but it was and is THEIR cutoff valve.

    May 3, 2010 at 1:54 am | Report abuse |
  15. Gizmo Fester

    @ jlsjmg: Actually, I do know what I'm talking about. I'm an engineer who worked in the plowshare program way back when (google plowshare+nuclear). A tactical nuke' would, with VERY high probability, seal the well. If it didn't seal it completely it would slow the leak greatly. It would have no chance of 'opening up the sea floor' and making things worse. You just have to look at the scale you would be operating on here.

    @jesse: I'm not talking about an airburst here. Deliver the warhead via submersible ROV right at the wellhead a mile down. The mile of water ovwerhead would contain any fallout products very effectively. An airburst would certainly vaporize any oil on the surface but the fallout would make this an unacceptable option. An underwater nuclear explosion would stop or greatly slow the leak allowing for greater effectiveness of topside cleanup efforts while buying time for the relief well to be drilled.

    May 3, 2010 at 2:20 am | Report abuse |
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