June 8th, 2010
06:00 PM ET

Day 50: 11 dead, unknown gallons of oil, no end in sight

[Updated at 5:51 p.m.] We've reached the milestone of Day 50 of the oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, which has become the biggest one in U.S. history. The government's point man on the response says it could take until the fall for the underwater gusher to be capped, and years until the environment damaged by the disaster is restored.

While BP tries to continues to work on how to stop the oil leaking into the Gulf of Mexico, anger is growing over who is to blame.

BP has been met with harsh criticism for not being prepared for the worst-case scenario and for the amount of trouble it is having capping the leak. Take a look at all of the efforts they've tried, what BP hoped would happen and how it worked out.

The oil rig explosion killed 11 people and is now leading to an environmental disaster threatening the livelihoods of those in the fishing, seafood and tourism industries.

So now, advocacy group MoveOn is planning to hold nationwide vigils Tuesday night to call for stepped-up efforts to stop the spill. And people across the country have been protesting BP and complaining about the lack of coordination and attempts to really work to stop the damage.

BP and officials say they're trying their hardest, but they've encountered trouble along the way. The biggest problem? The sheer amount of oil and the difficulty in controlling where it is going, according to the government's point man, Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen.

Now, in addition to fighting a battle in the Gulf, BP is also fighting a massive public relations battle.

First, it was a fake BP Twitter account that grabbed people's attention - one that mocked the company's efforts. Now the oil company seems to be trying to take matters into its own hands. CNNMoney.com reports the company is snapping up search phrases like "oil spill" and "oil spill claims" on Google and Yahoo. The strategy, says a company spokeswoman, aims to "assist those who are most impacted and help them find the right forms and the right people quickly and effectively." It also will help them control their message.

And these days it is all about the message those being held responsible are trying to send - and that includes the president and his administration.

President Obama, who has come under fire for not having the government step in sooner, defended his administration's response, telling an interviewer he has met with experts to learn "whose ass to kick."

Obama also had some tough words for BP - telling NBC's Matt Lauer - that he would have fired CEO Tony Hayward for downplaying the oil spill. Hayward said he "wanted his life back" and said the impact of the spill would likely be modest.

"He wouldn't be working for me after any of those statements," Obama told Lauer on the TODAY show.

Another flurry of  frustration with Obama centers on the Minerals Management Service, which oversees U.S. offshore drilling, including the Gulf of Mexico. The MMS has come under fire for mismanagement, questionable conduct and cozy relationships with industry officials. Interior Department Secretary Ken Salazar, during an appearance before the House Committee on Natural Resources, said he was trying to change the agency's culture and its structure, which some critics say leads to mismanagement.

Bobby Maxwell, a former Minerals Management Service auditor who spent 22 years with the Interior Department, tells CNN that he witnessed "inspections" on offshore oil rigs that were barely worth the name.

As this national story continues to develop, check out our full coverage page, and we'll continue to bring you the latest developments. Here's where we stand right now.

LATEST UPDATES

- President Obama will make another visit to the Gulf Coast next week to review efforts to contain and clean up the worst oil spill in U.S. history, the White House announces. 

- BP has provided new high-resolution video of the underwater gusher Tuesday after receiving a letter from Sens. Barbara Boxer and Bill Nelson imploring it to do so. Boxer and Nelson requested "full access to all video" related to the disaster to help independent experts determine the exact rate of oil flowing from the ruptured well. The latest minimum estimates have put the rate at between 12,000 and 25,000 barrels a day (500,000 to 1 million gallons), but scientists have complained about the quality of video used to determine those numbers, saying the amount could be much higher.
 
- BP CEO Tony Hayward has been asked to appear at a hearing June 17 before the House Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations.
 
- BP announces that it will donate net revenues from the sale of oil skimmed off the water's surface to a new fund created to help restore wildlife affected by the environmental disaster.
 
- The Department of Interior issued new safety requirements for offshore
drilling Tuesday. The directive strengthens safety measures for drilling in
shallow waters as recommended by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar in a report to the Obama administration. Deepwater drilling operations remain under a six-month moratorium in the wake of the disaster.

- In a letter to rig owner Transocean released Tuesday, Rep. Nick Rahall, chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, raised concerns about staffing shortages aboard the Deepwater Horizon rig on the day of the explosion, citing daily drilling reports provided by the company.

"I have serious questions about whether enough people were working on the night of April 20 to adequately handle the complex operations that were being performed, of if crew fatigue caused by extended shifts may have played a role."

- BP said that as of Monday, it has paid nearly $49 million to individuals and businesses affected by the spill. The company said it expects to issue a second round of payments this month to cover anticipated lost income or profits, bringing the total it has paid to about $84 million.

- Alabama Gov. Bob Riley said he was frustrated with BP's reimbursement process, announcing that he will send National Guard troops and emergency management workers into affected communities to help residents prepare claims forms.

- The latest Consolidated Fish and Wildlife Collection report says 380 oiled birds and 50 sea turtles have been rescued alive; 594 birds and 250 sea turtles have been found dead.

- BP kept 621,000 gallons of oil from flowing into the Gulf of Mexico in the past 24 hours, said Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, the federal government's response manager. He said the collection levels have "climbed steadily" since the containment cap became operational and they are expected to continue to grow in the next few weeks.

- The brother of one of the 11 workers killed in the explosion on the offshore oil rig Deepwater Horizon blasted BP chief Tony Hayward on Tuesday. Appearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Christopher Jones highlighted Hayward's recent remark that he wants his "life back."  "Mr. Hayward, I want my brother's life back," Jones said.  "We will never get (his) life back."

- Initial water samples have confirmed low concentrations of subsea oil from the ruptured BP wellhead, said Jane Lubchenco, head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. "We suspected that but it's good to have confirmation," she said at a news conference Tuesday.

- Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, called Tuesday for a sweeping overhaul of the nation's corporate liability laws in the wake of the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster, arguing that "no one's life should become an asterisk in somebody's cost-benefit analysis."

- BP has collected about about 1.8 million gallons of oil from the ruptured Gulf of Mexico well in the last four days, the company said Tuesday.

CLEANUP

- Workers in Louisiana have built about 2 miles of sand berms along the state's coast, Gov. Bobby Jindal said.

- BP Managing Director Bob Dudley said the company has agreed to pay $360 million toward the berm project, which is aimed at raising walls of sand along Louisiana barrier islands to catch the oncoming slick.

- BP says that it has closed one of four valves on the top of the cap and that the process is working well. The company says it may not close all four of the valves because engineers think the valves may be releasing more gas than oil.

- Federal authorities reopened about 340 square miles of federal waters off the Florida Panhandle east of Destin to fishing Monday after finding no sign of oil in that area, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration announced.

- The federal government has accepted Canada's offer of 3,000 meters - or more than 9,800 feet - of ocean boom to help combat the oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, a State Department spokesman said Monday. The boom is expected to arrive in the Gulf on Tuesday.

- The total amount of crude being collected from the ruptured undersea well responsible for the Gulf oil disaster increased Sunday to roughly 466,000 gallons, or 11,100 barrels, according to estimates from BP and Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, the federal government's response manager for the spill. On Saturday, BP indicated that it had increased the amount of crude being funneled to the surface to roughly 441,000 gallons.

- Since the containment cap was installed Friday, the total number of gallons of oil being captured on a daily basis has nearly doubled, Allen said at the White House on Monday.

- BP "anticipates moving another craft" to the well site shortly in order to raise the capacity of oil that could be captured on a daily basis to roughly 840,000 gallons, or 20,000 barrels, Allen said.

- In advance of approaching oil, Florida has about 250,000 feet of boom spread around the Panhandle and has another 250,000 feet available, Florida Gov. Charlie Crist said.

- Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour said that barely any oil had appeared on the state's shores but that its tourist industry was nonetheless feeling the pinch because of "misperceptions."

POLITICS

- Sen. David Vitter, R-Louisiana, asked that the moratorium on deepwater drilling be lifted early.

- Allen briefed President Obama and the Cabinet on Monday on the administration's ongoing response to the incident.

- Obama plans to personally offer his condolences to families who lost loved ones in the rig explosion, said White House spokesman Robert Gibbs. The president has invited the families of the 11 dead workers to the White House on Thursday.

-  The widows of two men killed aboard the offshore drill rig that sank in April, ripping open the undersea gusher, told members of Congress that more needs to be done to keep oil companies from putting profits ahead of safety.

soundoff (269 Responses)
  1. Troy T.

    They clearly don't have the correct mech. engineer's working on capping.
    Hard to believe that they couldn't get some type of hydraulic clamp on that main pipe, in the first couple of days.

    June 8, 2010 at 4:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • wut

      lol, so they're holding out on us for some reason? Not fixing it for lulz? Are you trying to say we're being trolled?

      June 8, 2010 at 4:51 pm | Report abuse |
  2. clarkdes

    Watching CNN The Situation Room as i type this. Now they are saying the cut may have made the leak worse and more oil is spilling out. It looks worse! I think BP is totally lying about how much they are collecting in the cap. I wonder if they're collecting anything at all! Just another PR scam by BP.

    June 8, 2010 at 5:40 pm | Report abuse |
  3. DAVID SHEIMAN, MD- MECHANICAL ENGINEER

    IF WE HAD A VALVE, WE WOULD CLOSE IT IMMEDIATELY. SINCE THERE IS NO VALVE, BLOW THE WELL! JUST LIKE THE RUSSIANS DID WHEN THEY HAD A BLOW OUT (REFER TO NEW YORK TIMES). WE ARE SICK AND TIRED OF ALL THESE INTELLECTS AND ALL THESE "EXPERTS". JUST BLOW IT AND SHUT IT DOWN. IF THE FEDS OR THE GOVERNMENT DOES NOT INTERVENE AND HAVE OTHER OIL COMPANIES HELP AND GET BP OUT OF THE PICTURE THIS WILL BE THE WORST ENVIRONMENTAL DISASTER OF THE LAST 1,000 YEARS, WHICH I THINK ALREADY IS. THIS IS THE 50TH DAY OF THIS DISASTER AND WE ARE STILL "TALKING" ABOUT WHAT TO DO. I'M TELLING YOU WHAT TO DO. DON'T FORGET THIS, THERE IS ONLY ONE OCEAN, IT WILL AFFECT ALL THE OCEANS OF THE WORLD AND THE LIVELIHOOD OF MILLINOS OF PEOPLE, PLUS ONLY GOD KNOWS WHAT IT HAS DONE ALREADY TO THE MARINE LIFE.

    June 8, 2010 at 6:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • coolmanluc

      I like your thinking? BLOW IT UP...........

      June 8, 2010 at 7:12 pm | Report abuse |
  4. coolmanluc

    BLOW IT UP! We (USA) have the technology to close the main oil shaft with controlled detonation. Then BP can re-drill the shaft once the well has stop polluting our Gulf & destroying our resources. They have 2 shafts being drilled right now and it will take over 2 months to complete. Are they that stupid? It is nowday 50 and the oil is still flowing. The reason they do not want to do it is all do to greed…….from the ultra-conservative politicians & lobbyists that are getting kickbacks. Sure they all will be vacationing in Europe when they retire, all-the -while we get to look a dead birds & fish for the next century.

    June 8, 2010 at 7:09 pm | Report abuse |
  5. krislogan

    Maybe contact these Belgian and Dutch dredging firms who have the ships and material to clean up and contain the mess... Oh, yeah, sorry they can't be asked to do the job because of the protectionist 1920 Jones Act, prohibiting foreign dredging companies from operating in US waters... .http://www.flandershouse.org/belgian-dredger-tech

    June 8, 2010 at 7:52 pm | Report abuse |
  6. krislogan

    An idea....
    Maybe contact these Belgian and Dutch dredging firms who have the ships and material to clean up and contain the mess... Oh, yeah, sorry they can't be asked to do the job because of the protectionist 1920 Jones Act, prohibiting foreign dredging companies from operating in US waters... . http://www.flandershouse.org/belgian-dredger-tech

    June 8, 2010 at 7:53 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Rzrbk

    Has anyone thought to call the Navy to use DSRVs? 15k and 25k manned vessels. They may be in San Diego still. Why not put real eyes on the problem? 5k isn't anything for these babies.

    June 8, 2010 at 8:01 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Heath

    50 days of lies and negligence from BP. Apparently recovering more oil by the day, yet it continues to gush out the bottom of the 'cap'.

    June 8, 2010 at 8:37 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Tami

    Day 50 with no fix and no end in sight. This is not just a BP / US Gulf problem, but a world problem. This needs the attention and the help of the world ASAP.

    June 8, 2010 at 8:43 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Don H

    Why "Zero Sum" the leak with a cap? Why not install a manifold with multiple pressure reducing valves/ports, redirect some of the flow to multiple 6" flexable high pressure hose at said ports, and systematicly reduce the flow. Then figure the rest out?
    Drafting from one small line (siphoning) will only aid/reduce friction loss. This will give you product at the surface, but the amount under pressure and leaking from the source is unchanged.

    June 8, 2010 at 8:49 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Sonnet

    Don's idea above mine is a good one. Another question I have, is there any reason they can just install a long pipe from surface to the broken pipe? I have been watching the video of the leak a great deal and it seems to me there is a lot of pressure there and the oil floats upwards in water – SO you wouldn't even need a tight seal, even something like a range hood would capture most of the leak. There would be no more need for these 'vents' and closing off pressure and all the rest. That's as futile as closing off an erupting volcano. The oil needs to be redirected. Why aren't they doing that instead of insisting on trying to stopper, plug or cap a leak (impossible!)

    June 8, 2010 at 10:21 pm | Report abuse |
  12. koomar

    I know its a totaly different department but, how come NASA isn't getting involved. Don't they do underwater experiments?

    June 9, 2010 at 2:30 am | Report abuse |
  13. Ter

    The new
    video of Gulf Oil Disaster released 5:30 It is a fake at the 27 second mark you can see someone go in and out a door
    Do They( B.P. ) Really think the American Public are Idiots

    June 9, 2010 at 6:17 am | Report abuse |
  14. alberto salinas

    Why don't you slip a pipe with an open shut off valve over the existing leaking pipe, weld them together then shut the valve off stopping the leak all together? If you don't know
    what I mean, call me and I will show you.

    AT THE RATE THE OIL IS SPILLING, HOW MANY DAYS WILL IT TAKE TO SPILL ONE MILLION BARRELS, 10 MILLION BARRELS? IF BP AND OIL COMPANIES DO NOT HAVE A WAY TO PREVENT OR STOP SUCH INCIDENTS FROM OCCURRING, THEY HAVE NO BUSINESS IN TAKING SUCH RISKS PLACING THE WELFARE OF EVERYTHING AND EVERYONE AT BAY.

    June 9, 2010 at 8:15 am | Report abuse |
  15. Victoria

    Please join our cause!

    http://www.causes.com/causes/487728?recruiter_id=101964161

    We are currently seeing the destruction that's taking place because of BPs oil drilling.
    The oil is now found, not only floating, but even 500m under water! This means that the oil is even trapping animals swimming beneath the surface of the water and causing them to die!

    Not only do we have a crisis on our hands, but we have a choice...

    Something needs to be done, why don't we start today?
    Before its TOO LATE!

    YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE!

    Thank you
    – Founder of Save Our Oceans

    June 9, 2010 at 4:23 pm | Report abuse |
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