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. Brandon

    CORK THE DAMN THING LIKE A BOTTLE OF WINE AND THEN STRAP THE CORK DOWN AND SHUT DOWN THE SITE.. ALL BP AND THE GOVERMENT WANT TO DO IS MAKE A TEMP FIX SO THEY CAN REBUILD AND KEEP PUMPING. AS IF THEY HAVENT LEARNED THERE LESSON AND DOEN ENOUGH DAMAGE. FOOLS..

    June 8, 2010 at 12:41 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Sofia

    It just clicks in my mind all the time: Is it some type of domestic terrorism or revenge or animosity loaded with bad intentions, power of greedy ones, evil or an event of animosity? I just can get it how that company knows all the risks that were coming and still did not do anything to stop this catastrophy to our land and and natural environment(the peoplewater, animals, air). Now, everything is poisoned in the Golf Coast. Every living thing will die slowly. America has always been the land of opportunity for all incoming people around the world. I believe BP have to pay for the salaries of all the people that depends of the fishing, tourism and much more.

    June 8, 2010 at 12:41 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Sara

    Whoa Canada is going to give us 2 miles of boom? That should cover just about nothing.

    June 8, 2010 at 12:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • bb54

      Yeah! And Mr.Harper thinks that should be more than enough for what you guys need !

      June 8, 2010 at 12:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hi

      Whatre you contributing again?

      June 8, 2010 at 12:51 pm | Report abuse |
  4. John

    I was watching CNN last night and I don't understand why action is not being taken in using all of the volunteers that have expressed to help in the clean-up efforts. Why won't BP use them?

    We as human beings are slowly killing planet Earth.

    June 8, 2010 at 12:42 pm | Report abuse |
  5. pao

    Where is "OBAMA" he don't want to be so hard with PB Why???
    Because Pb help a lot $$$$ in his presidential campain.

    June 8, 2010 at 12:43 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Go Navy

    We should do two things. Boycott BP. You know they are going to pass the cleanup cost on to the American consumer. And Obama needs to get the navy out there. Tie the BP executives to the wellhead and then have the navy nuke it.

    June 8, 2010 at 12:44 pm | Report abuse |
  7. bboulay

    Mr.Prime Minister Harper and President Obama : Two neighbors walking hands in hands when it comes to petroleum.
    disaster,pollution,killing birs and other wildlife. As my ex-boss (an ameican from Vermont) used to say :
    We need men with vision! I guess he thought he was one of them. But me being his employee, he thought I was lacking vision. But the only vision I am seeing from people who governs it all is a vision very much clouded by black tar and petroleum. So much for the so called American Visionaries ! The can barely see the tip of their nose and after that they have the guts to tell us what we should be smoking or not smoking. Go to hell all of you !

    June 8, 2010 at 12:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • OKRight

      YOU ARE A FN IDIOT

      June 8, 2010 at 12:53 pm | Report abuse |
  8. randy floyd

    bp just use the dispersant that nasa devolped in the 90s it is complelly organic if you dont know about it go to history channel archives it came from outerspace quit --- around

    June 8, 2010 at 12:46 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Matt

    It is time for the goverment to freeze all BP assets in the US until this situation is rectified. The only way to get a large company like this' attention is to substainly hit them in the pocket book.

    June 8, 2010 at 12:48 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Angela R.

    Ok, I don't understand something. About a month or two BEFORE BP's colossial screw-up, I was watching some channel, I don't remember which, and they were showing methods of cleaning up oil spills. At the time it seemed we had it all together. Now looking back, there were several methods shown to collect oil from the top of water that aren't even being addressed here. Where are those people and why aren't these methods being tried? Although I admit our main goal should be stopping the oil flow, why aren't we doing more toward clean up and control? If clean up and control methods we're put into place first, wouldn't it have effectively slowed and perhaps stopped contamination further down the coast? Will someone please explain this?

    June 8, 2010 at 12:49 pm | Report abuse |
  11. David Tokar

    Remember the shears that cut off the riser pipe from the well that made this spill worse? BP has another version that is used for crimping pipes closed but BP refuses to use them due to profits. They want to keep making money off this disaster as long as possible. How the Tax credits for there losses and expenses. caping instead of plugging. Capturing and refining what they catch. This spill means nothing to BP. As long as the Government allows BP to capture oil rather than closed down the well this will never end. These releif wells are just that all they will do is give BP another way to capture the Oil that may slow the leak but will not stop it. This whole thing is a Joke by the Government and BP the Government is not serious about stopping this Oil Spill.

    June 8, 2010 at 12:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • LooseLips

      That's not true. It is on the list of options to be done, but BP and Coast Guard have agreed not to do it yet. They do not know how much pressure is in those pipes, and if you crimp them without relieving the pressure elsewhere, without knowing how much pressure they're under, you risk another explosion.

      You should also know that BP is taking a lot of the blame here, and rightfully so, but they are not calling the shots. The U.S. Coast Guard is. If they say jump, BP has to say how high. Notice how we're on our third Coast Guard Lead since this explosion occurred. Some of just dissappeared...one even to "hurricane duty". When the government, or their people mess up, they seem to hide their mistakes quite easily, don't they.

      Read the Incident Command site and Coast Guard transcripts. Its all in there. Things CNN will never show you...

      June 8, 2010 at 1:07 pm | Report abuse |
  12. madhatter

    Star from Yahoo posted this comment which I have been supporting fro 3 weeks now.;
    SUPER TANKER RETRIEVAL is CRITICAL. GET BP’s OIL OUT OF OUR WATER. Putting BP be in charge of the disaster is equivalent to putting Al Qaeda in charge of Home Land Security. BP has ruined our Gulf food chain, ecosystem and beaches with oil, chemicals, GREED. BP’s sub-sea containment failed. BP lied about the amount of oil being spilled & consequently, their retrieval efforts have fallen far short. SUPER TANKER RETRIEVAL is CRITICAL. There are miles & millions of gallons of oil slick with no ships or skimmers to retrieve it.
    In the 1990’s there was a comparable unpublished disaster in Saudi Arabia. Shell & the major oil companies organized a flotilla of super tankers surrounding the spill area. They pulled up oil and water until the oil was all retrieved. They retrieved 10 million gallons of oil and water per tanker per trip and effectively cleaned up the oil and saved the environment. BP’s oil did not have to reach Louisiana’s shore , it did not have to kill the Gulf of Mexico’s ecosystem, IT DOES NOT HAVE TO REACH FLORIDA & THE EAST COAST. Our government has failed with unforgivable procrastination for RETRIEVAL EFFORTS TO REMOVE THIS OILUS government officials are allowing the oil to continue to flow while oil company profiteers keep on keeping on. DEMAND SUPER TANKER RETRIEVAL CLEAN UP NOW. GET THE OIL OUT OF OUR WATER. Shell Oil CEO CALLED FOR Super Tanker Retrieval weeks ago on NBC news – if the government & BP had made the call then the tankers would be here by now.
    Please contact the President, the Department of Interior, Department of Justice, Governor, Senators and Representatives. SUPER TANKER RETRIEVAL NOW – GET BP's OIL OUR OF OUR WATER

    June 8, 2010 at 12:49 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Gil

    Hello All, I put together a collection of 6 songs and donated them to Global Green to help the Gulf Coast.
    Have a listen to one of them here and read my reasons for donating to this organization in case you are skeptical.
    CNN has contacted me about this song and it was just fetured on No Depression, the Roots Music Authority:

    http://www.nodepression.com/video/drill-baby-drill-song-to

    June 8, 2010 at 12:51 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Bagu

    personally I'm tired of the media shoving the news about the spill down our throats ad naseum, until we're choking with rage. if any is to blame for all the public hostility for those trying to stop the spill its the media for being the devil's advocate and throwing constant fuel into the fire.

    June 8, 2010 at 12:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rube

      Stick your head in the sand and pretend it didn't happen if you want, no one's stopping you.

      June 8, 2010 at 2:27 pm | Report abuse |
  15. concernedad7

    Again people, why arent we using oil eating microbes. IT EATS OIL!!!! The people of the good ole USA should take into our own hands to clean this up. We go all over the world helping countries and now its happening in our own backyard. To hell to whoever tries to stop us from saving our own and lets get out there with a solution of our own and send the bill to the tards (BP)(and to everyone that tries to stop us)... Join together. We can make a difference when we are one force... SAVE USA

    June 8, 2010 at 12:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • OKRight

      Wow, that's sound real intelligent

      June 8, 2010 at 12:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Codifex Maximus

      Remember, oil is a major component of living tissue. What would happen if all these "Oil eating microbes" decided to eat the oil in your body. What if the microbes mutated or evolved into a bigger problem than the one they were designed to address? Then what?

      June 8, 2010 at 6:20 pm | Report abuse |
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