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. BP = Big Problems

    @ Dennis:
    BP is addressing the well being the 2nd biggest. Why do you think they are taking their time in stopping the leak? They want that relief well drilled so they can continue to syphon off the oil to sell on the market. They other reason they are slow to stop the leak is because they are trying methods to not stop it, but to syphon the oil to their benefit once again. Its a sick sick world and oil companies are some of the worst...along side politicians.

    June 8, 2010 at 11:07 am | Report abuse |
    • PK

      Read up on the Lakeview Gusher that occurred in California in the early 1900. It spewed as much oil daily as BP's well and did so for almost 2 years! Sometimes, we humans create problems that exceed the ability of our technology to control them. Not to defend BP (because I think their greed led them to take shortcuts resulting in 11 murdered men and an environmental disaster) but working one mile below the ocean surface will slow things down dramatically. I myself have considered the likelyhood that they are trying to *control* the flow rather than stop it. One would have to do the math of the profitability of the recovered oil vs. the liability in cleanup. However, perhaps the pressures are such that there is simply no stopping the thing until the pressure is relieved.

      June 8, 2010 at 11:36 am | Report abuse |
    • abcd4321

      Sorry bud, but the "top kill" was an attempt to seal it for good, and the relief wells wont be used to collect the oil, but to permanently cement the well off. Do you honestly believe that BP thinks it can make more money off the oil in that well than the massive amounts of money they are throwing at the problem every day? I don't think anyone wants this leak to stop and the well to be permanently sealed more than BP. The best case scenario for BP would have been stopping the leak via the BOP on day 1, and it just gets worse and worse for them every single day this goes on.

      June 8, 2010 at 11:44 am | Report abuse |
    • Bob

      the relief well is so they can kill the well from the bottom concreting it shut forever,,,,,dummy!!

      June 8, 2010 at 12:35 pm | Report abuse |
  2. don b

    WHY can't BP use the same ships for containment of the oil using suction devices dropped down into the "plumes" of oil below the surface? And why dosn't BP use the devices as developed thru Kevin Kosner in collecting and separating the oil from water to stop this contamination? This system is claimed to separate 200 gallons per minute and possibly it could also be used to siphon and separate the oil and pump it into the surface ships. A company recently has shown on how their product, scattered onto the water, absorbs the oil and can be picked up in contained glob mass. It was a form of plastic but looked like diatamaceous earth. Scatter this onto the beaches and at the shore lines and trap the oil and then simply scoop it up in mass and reprocess it. I don't feel BP is really doing all they can to correct their created problem and should ask the general public for suggestions. I already suggested the hot liquid (water/leve steam) be placed near the leak to prevent ice crystalization in capture of the oil.

    June 8, 2010 at 11:07 am | Report abuse |
    • Bob

      YOU THOUGHTS AND IDEAS HAVE NO BASIS IN REALITY

      June 8, 2010 at 12:36 pm | Report abuse |
  3. engineer

    Put a BALLOON CATHETER in the pipe and blow up the balloon!!.

    June 8, 2010 at 11:09 am | Report abuse |
    • Alan

      I am in agreement with'ya Bro I've been sayin that for a month theres heavy rubber bladders that can be inflated in the well head pipe that can seal that baby off like a cork in a bottle Damn-it surely those idiots at BP have looked at doing something like that unless the plan all along was to return to pumping this Demon again because after this disaster chances are they won't get to keep the well anyway Its looking like that was the plan all along just to let it spew until they could tapp back into it what a crime this will be

      June 8, 2010 at 11:18 am | Report abuse |
  4. Chris

    how's that small government thingie workin' out for ya now, huh?

    June 8, 2010 at 11:09 am | Report abuse |
    • jb

      Yeah, right, if the MMS wasn't in bed with the oil companies and doing their job, this would not have happened. Gov't caused this by not inspecting properly
      .

      June 8, 2010 at 1:02 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Alan

    its alittle to soon to think about kicking ass BP needs to get a handle on this situation and fast its already went far to long then after the dust settles start pointing fingers , Offshore Drilling will be forever changed after this as well it should be when theres no backup plan for drilling at depths as deep as this was it should be banned for all companies to drill , and I agree that the Heads minerals mannagement Service should be fired and new rules put in place I would venture to say that the big oil companies were giving out kickbacks for having them turn theirs heads and look the other way on important issuses thats gotta stop

    June 8, 2010 at 11:10 am | Report abuse |
  6. Artie

    Sowhere are all the "Save the Gulf" concerts? Where are the TV benefits with celebrities and musicians giving heart felt speeches on the poor fishermen, wildlife, beaches, loss of income and sabotaged gulf economy?I find it rather strange how these people (including our own ...government) are so quick to help Haiti and other countries, yet sit on their butts for this one! REPOST if you agree.

    June 8, 2010 at 11:12 am | Report abuse |
    • Phlyers!

      Ignorant comment made to get a rise out of other socially-unaware people. Haiti and the Gulf are two completely different situations. Get a clue before you re-post Facebook nonsense here.

      June 8, 2010 at 11:20 am | Report abuse |
    • Alan

      God isn't that the truth where is the help for us when theres a national crisis when it happens around the world in a low life third world country were right there wiping their noses and giving them three squares a day and a cot to sleep on , wheres Fema at why would this be bad enough for the people around the gulf to get aid wheres the american people ? the entertainers anyone that can plan benefits and aid for the poor people that will loose their liveihoods because it will be a long hard road toget back to normal

      June 8, 2010 at 11:27 am | Report abuse |
    • Epirus

      @Artie I agree it is very strange.
      @Phlyers! – No really they are two different situations? I think you are missing the point. You are either really slow or reaching for a response(trolling).

      June 8, 2010 at 12:19 pm | Report abuse |
  7. 7thseal

    STOP ATTACKING THE PRESIDENT ON BP! This is not his fault. He’s done more for this country in a short time than, ANY President in history. It's not about policies; some people just don't like him. You people are FOLLY! Nobody complained about Bush with Katrina, who didn’t respond nearly as quickly as President Obama. Folks talking in the South and other places said nothing then! Katrina was a natural disaster killed thousands. Oil spill. Man made. killing fish I guess that’s more of a anger issue for a President to have than to tell a former president Bush to go down to Katrina, hug those people, keep going down there showing your presence. I tell you the truth! YOU un-cover, cowardly, hiding behind your masks are becoming exposed In the book of REVELATIONS, “ A quart of wheat for a day’s wage and three quarts of barley for a days wage, and DO NOT DAMAGE THE OIL!(meaning the spill will destroy the habitants and possibly the Earth because of the evil greed of man) CONSPIRACY? Skull and bones? Look who’s quiet hummmm…. People are loosing their businesses because of this. So Americans and the world; WAKE UP! Government is not our fear. Terrorism is not our fear, Tea parties will collapse. I tell you the truth! BP we will pay a BIG price, NO company will survive the monetary and criminal wrath the President’s administration will put on BP and their supporters. Money is MEANINGLESS! “ Of what use is money in the hands of fools, since he has no desire to gain wisdom”.(meaning greedy, evil men want to get richer and richer for their own profit not the people, then when a disaster happens, they have no smarts and knowledge to plug a oil hole which they caused.) I tell you the truth. Follicial men will never rest in peace for cresting this mess. So do as you will you oil folks. It's been foretold. It has come. So shall it be.

    CONSTANTINE

    June 8, 2010 at 11:13 am | Report abuse |
    • Phlyers!

      Seriously??! EVERYONE complained about the way Bush handled Katrina!!!

      June 8, 2010 at 11:22 am | Report abuse |
  8. Jimbo

    Funny remix of BP apology:

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IypAbVnwNHA&w=640&h=360]

    June 8, 2010 at 11:17 am | Report abuse |
    • Sparky

      I'd like to kick Tony in his limey chiklits.....hey Tony, how about helping the families of those 11 dead men

      June 8, 2010 at 11:22 am | Report abuse |
    • Islandson

      It's nothig less then jaw dropping ,that BP would buy up all the prime search spots on Google and Yahoo, and think that nobody would notice , or see it for what it is. The BP BS seems to have no end.

      June 8, 2010 at 11:50 am | Report abuse |
  9. Al

    America will pay an unprecedented price tag to this disaster. BP has legal protection in this case, which is a pathetic one, but taxpayers will end up picking up this tab for decades to come, sad but true !

    June 8, 2010 at 11:19 am | Report abuse |
  10. Demo

    As a BP employee I can rightfully say that to be honest, we don't really care about the spill. It will have little to no impact on our profits. Once we fix the issue (if we chose to) we will be regarded as heroes.

    June 8, 2010 at 11:22 am | Report abuse |
    • Erik

      BP does care. You're wrong. If you believe what you say, then what is your real name and we can let BP know how you feel because that's not BP's position. The BP people I know are working 90 hour weeks. If you're not, then there's something wrong with you.

      June 8, 2010 at 11:30 am | Report abuse |
    • Rob

      Demo, being the check out boy at a BP gas station doesn't count. We know you don't care, that's why you are working as a check out boy at a BP gas station

      June 8, 2010 at 11:37 am | Report abuse |
    • Alan

      Heros My ass in what country ? sure as hell not this one, as for profits its already affected that wait til you take a paycut

      June 8, 2010 at 11:38 am | Report abuse |
    • Katey

      Simply put – you're a pig.

      June 8, 2010 at 11:56 am | Report abuse |
    • Erik's Step-cousin's Uncle's Dog walker

      Erik, what exactly are they doing during these 90 hr work weeks? After 50 days its apparent that they're sitting on the clock.

      June 8, 2010 at 12:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Clancy

      Demo is one of the biggest red herrings I have ever noticed before.

      June 8, 2010 at 12:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Codifex Maximus

      Satire... pure satire. Such was your aim was it not?

      June 8, 2010 at 5:29 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Pete

    If it's difficult to get things to work at 5000 ft below the surface, then what made BP think the blowout preventer would work?

    June 8, 2010 at 11:23 am | Report abuse |
  12. John

    Sen. Vitter is from Louisiana and he wants the ban lifted after what they did to his state?! Is anyone there going to vote for him after that?!

    June 8, 2010 at 11:23 am | Report abuse |
    • Jes

      I certainly won't be, though I didn't vote for him the first time, either.

      June 9, 2010 at 4:54 am | Report abuse |
  13. AD

    Impact of drilling ban on the State of Louisiana: 330M lost wages per month, 318,000 jobs, 16.5M/day lost commerce. It sounds like Obama is kicking the people of Louisiana's ass to me. New safety standards can be developed and implemented without shutting down existing permitted operations.

    June 8, 2010 at 11:24 am | Report abuse |
    • thetruth1028

      Impact of not banning Drilling and allowing for it to continue without review of safety measures: Potential for another spill just like this one. What happens if another Deep Water Spill happens in the Gulf? All the Gulf States go broke....

      June 8, 2010 at 1:25 pm | Report abuse |
  14. chitownlady

    My God..... My God......Look at what they and ourselves have done to the planet........To people ..... to the animals.....Was this all worth one word.......GREED?

    June 8, 2010 at 11:25 am | Report abuse |
    • ABC

      I dont think so you have heard what Union Carbide (American company) did in INDIA 26 yrs Before. They had a explosion in the plant which killed 15000 Indians and impaired 150,000. As a compensation they gave $1000 to those who died and $500 to who got impaired. Now do you think this is a big mess.

      June 8, 2010 at 12:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nick

      ABC, this is still a devastating catastrophe caused by the greed of humans. Don’t be silly.

      June 8, 2010 at 12:28 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Jeff

    The Obama administration with all of their politics made second fatal mistake in managing the Gulf oil spill. Though it would have gone against their "grain" to do so, but their first phone call should have been to Dick Cheney. There is no politician who is more suited to manage a crisis like this. His connections to the oil industry and understanding of how politics works would have allowed him to take immediate actions to get the government response in motion,

    I do not expect the Dems. to agree with this. I makes too much sense to attack the problem before looking for whose as to kick.

    June 8, 2010 at 11:27 am | Report abuse |
    • Joe

      Given the limited resources this government's response was really good. Cheney had worked and would work for Halliburton, not for american people. He never worked for american people!

      June 8, 2010 at 11:42 am | Report abuse |
    • Becky

      You really believe Cheney would have helped?! His administration helped create this mess!

      June 8, 2010 at 6:40 pm | Report abuse |
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