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. William

    I am sickened by the lack of urgency on the part of both BP and the U.S. government. This is rapidly becoming a global crisis. PUT AN END TO IT even if it means detonating a bomb deep below the surface of the earth's crust. What the hell is everyone thinking? The eco-system, tourism, the fishing industries are dying. WAKE UP! I feel as though I am living a nightmare watching these images. Bring in engineeers from other industrialized nations. The Dutch are the best at dealing with these issues. It is time to hold BP executives accountable for their actions. Charge them criminally and put them behind bars or implement public caning. They sought to undermine and weaken environmental laws. This could have been avoided if they had spent half a million on a sonar preventative mechanism which other countries and governments require. Now they have to spend billions. Greed. Prevention Prevention!

    June 8, 2010 at 11:58 am | Report abuse |
  2. Raj

    All over the world Govt's have been giving permission to these corporations without any proper regulations. Oil Leak is major disaster. Pharmaceutical companies in Asia are releasing antibiotics in Indian rivers and water. No body even knows them and any one hardly questions them.

    We are abusing the earth without knowing it consequences and we endangering future generations. We spent too much money on NASA and want to study mars when we don't even know how to control the oil leak and save the Mother earth. We can fix a satellite station up in the space but can't fix the oil leak. Whose fault is it?

    June 8, 2010 at 12:01 pm | Report abuse |
  3. alebiglio

    Not to defend BP but as an engineer I have to wonder how much pressure there is in that tube since it spews so much oil against a mile of water pressure, think about it, it's definitely not that easy to cap something with that much pressure at that dept......said that they should have known better than not to have an emergency plan in case something went wrong.

    June 8, 2010 at 12:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Codifex Maximus

      Indeed. The pressures are tremendous. I'm thinking that only hydraulic manipulation is the key. If they have some kind of pipe exterior protrusions, they could clamp a cap device on the tube and use the hydraulics to activate the cap.

      June 8, 2010 at 5:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sonnet

      Capping isn't the solution. That oil reserve has all the pressure of the seabed and ocean on top of it, pushing down. We can't 'cap' that kind of pressure! We've got to redirect it somehow. Even under high pressure, gases/liquids will take the path of least resistance. Connecting another pipe to the broken one, or a head that separates out into multiple pipes to reduce pressure – THAT is the only thing that's going to stay on.

      June 8, 2010 at 10:42 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Mayune

    This oil spill is defnitely BP's responsibility and lack of proper planning. Number 1. They should have built a shut off valve. How can you not prepare for a possible desaster given the depth and location of the oil rig. What they did not want to pay by build in a saety shut off valve they are paying in lost lives, lost businesses,lost wages, ecological losses; not to mention lost reputation. Number 2. They did not have have a desaster plan, at least not not for this type of desaster. Like what if the pipe breaks? How can you expect a small leak from a hole not to become a bigger leak if you cut off the entire pipe and not have an adequate capping device ready. Number 3. BP obviously learned nothing from the Alaskan Exxon oil spill 21 years ago ...in which BP held 47 % of their stock. Money is not enough. BP should not be given licence to drill anywhere in the USA. BP need to pay for all clean up, all lost wages, all lost of lives and livelihood. One SOLUTION:

    BP need to HUMBLE themselves and call on the GOOD LORD to give them WISDOM in solving this problem. It is beyond their capabalities. They need DEVINE intervention.
    President Obama also need to HUMBLE himself and ask the Lord to show him how to deal with this problem. He obviously DOES NOT KNOW what to do. ' Kicking asses is not it" SOLVE THE PROBLEM!! STOP THE LEAK!! RESTORE JOBS!! CLEAN UP!! FINE BP!! STOP THEM FROM DRILLING!! Most of all PRAY as the Lord Jesus for His help, after all this is His Earth. He will give wisdom to those who ask.

    June 8, 2010 at 12:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lisa J.

      Mayune: I agree with you on this topic. I can't understand WHY BP didn't have any precautionary measures in place. This is astounding and irresponsible behavior. They didn't THINK AHEAD nor did the company think about a disaster plan like you had mentioned. Now, that the damage is done, BP has got to TAKE ACTION before things get worse.
      President Obama has to be fervent in his decisions and let's all pray he and his adminsitration seek the wisdom of the Lord.

      June 8, 2010 at 12:28 pm | Report abuse |
  5. vharmony

    The poor animals that are suffering for our failures. Who's going to help them?

    June 8, 2010 at 12:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nick

      you and me... and Obama

      June 8, 2010 at 12:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nick

      ... I take back the Obama part for now. Hopefully he is doing everying that he can as the president.

      June 8, 2010 at 12:20 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Sick of oil

    If we would just stop using cars and walk and bike everywhere, this oil spill would have never happened because we wouldn't have needed it! So go green everyone, and quit using your cars! We don't need them.

    June 8, 2010 at 12:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • abcd4321

      I suppose you're surfing the internet using electricity that was not produced in a coal-fired power plant, on a computer that is not made of plastic produced with petroleum products. "Green"

      June 8, 2010 at 12:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mayune

      I would love to walk to work trouble is it would take over four hours each day that means I would have to rise at 3 AM and won't get back till 9PM, what about in bad weather I may not arrive at all. No, we need to walk short distances, you know one to three miles. but use other resources for energy and transportation like solar and wind.

      June 8, 2010 at 12:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Codifex Maximus

      The world would starve. Billions would die. Is that what you want?

      We are not going to wean the world off of oil, coal or natural gas overnight; it has to be done gradually – build up infrastructure and develop power alternatives that are economically feasible.

      June 8, 2010 at 5:57 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Bruce

    United States Of Dharma – Alter Ego Billy Bob Beaver Rants on Oil Leak
    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jqvmPBf1DW4&w=640&h=360]

    June 8, 2010 at 12:07 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Texas Pete

    Shoot, Ixtoc was a much bigger spill then this, and polluted all over the south Texas coast. No oil there now, so eventually, nature will take care of this spill over the next 10 years. Clean it up by all means, but the media needs to quit declaring the Gulf of Mexico as never able to recover.

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

      Hmm. Sounds like you need to actually educate yourself on what's happening.

      June 8, 2010 at 12:33 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Nick

    I’m really sorry God. I will make better efforts to protect the earth because I love it here, and I am very sad about this catastrophe that I helped to create through my ignorance.

    June 8, 2010 at 12:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Planet

      Captain planet we really need you right now 😦

      June 8, 2010 at 12:14 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Gas pricing

    So uhh why hasnt the price of gas skyrocketed due to the leak of over 50 days? Just wondering when their wasnt a leak the prices would fluctuate so much but now....

    Hmm...So has the honest almighty BP been taking advantage of people?

    June 8, 2010 at 12:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Krissy

      Because crude oil prices and gas prices are not always intertwined.

      June 8, 2010 at 12:33 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Carol

    Ecospehe Technology ozonix non chemical technology deployed trucks to the gulf on June 4. Have you received any feedback?

    June 8, 2010 at 12:14 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Nancy

    CNN and all news media: PLEASE stop showing those pictures of the poor oil-drenched pelicans. It is too painful. Enough already!

    June 8, 2010 at 12:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lisa J.

      Sorry Nancy,
      As painful as that, we need to see how terrible a BP desaster this really is... and it is not yet over.

      June 8, 2010 at 12:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Steve-O

      Yeah Nancy, stop showing the pictures and videos and it will all just "go away"...the truth hurts, and it needs to be seen, or heard, to cause a reaction.

      June 8, 2010 at 12:57 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Vic of New York

    So I am eagerly waiting for the indictment and prosecution of those administrators at the MMS and their handlers at BP who are responsible for the shoddy job of safety management of the oil industry.

    That won't happen any more than prosecuting DICK Cheney aver did. Republicans will see to that.

    June 8, 2010 at 12:16 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Jay

    Why have we stopped hearing about when BP will be closing the ports on the containment cap? How long is it projected to take to reach their projected ability to capture 90% of the oil leaking into the ocean?

    June 8, 2010 at 12:17 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Michael

    President Obama and his administration have NO CREDITABILITY and offer NO LEADERSHIP. During his recent visit here on the gulf coast, he spent three whole hours before he flew off to play golf for five hours. Obama does nothing but vacation and party while AMERICA SUFFERS. The People of America are losing our jobs, our homes and the wildlife is dying in front of our eyes but I'm sure that Obama and Michelle will continue to have their "NIGHT'S OUT".

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