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. Adam

    Listen, i'm sure a lot of people can reduce how much gas they put in their cars on a weekly basis, but come on lets be real. People cant walk or ride a bike to work when they live 30-45 minutes away by car. Thats not going to happen. Im not even going to mention if you have family that live out of state.
    Honestly car companies should have had their fuel problem figured out a long time ago. Theres no reason for them to be making all these souped up V-8 engines that guzzle gas making cars that get 16 miles /gal. I understand people that live where is snows for 5 or 6 months a year, i get that. Its the makers that should have had this fuel efficiency problem fixed. Who knows .... this disaster was probably going to happen at some point anyways.
    Maybe this is in the bible where it talks about a third of the sea turning into blood and a third of the seas creatures dying. Its not a third of the sea yet but if this leak continues it could be when its all said and done.

    June 8, 2010 at 12:52 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Tony

    maybe the Punk Rock Group Green Day is right, maybe we all are American Idiots

    Don't want to be an American idiot.
    One nation controlled by the media.
    Information age of hysteria.
    It's calling out to idiot America.

    June 8, 2010 at 12:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • OKRight

      Actually they were referring to GW Bush, you idiot

      June 8, 2010 at 12:56 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Toby

    Texas loses revenue? Are you kidding. Make BP pay it back...it's BP's fault. But lack of Revenue for Texas is hardly a reason to lift a ban. How about Big Fat Texas finds some alternative fuel methods and collects the Revenue on that? Again...BP should be accountable for every cent...and I hope they go down with that nasty little selfish CEO of theirs.

    June 8, 2010 at 12:54 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Mike

    throw the CEO in jail.

    June 8, 2010 at 12:54 pm | Report abuse |
  5. LJK

    The main reason why the leak hasn't been stopped is OIL IS STILL FLOWING. BP has no vested interest in completely destroying the well thereby cutting a cash crop. Instead they flutter around trying every little attempt that will allow them to come back later and reuse the exiting well. Plus as the oil leaks they are collecting it for processing (Any they can catch).

    It is time to send in the EUD teams from the navy and PERMANENTLY plug the well. 4-5 nuclear warheads should THROUGHLY seal the well. The environmental impact would be alot less from the nukes than the oil washing up on the shore.

    June 8, 2010 at 12:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • OKRight

      Hey LJK, are you sure about that?

      June 8, 2010 at 1:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Codifex Maximus

      You want to make a bigger hole then? Also, average Plutonium half-life is what? 88 years?

      June 8, 2010 at 6:24 pm | Report abuse |
  6. PDrapala

    It makes me sad to see all the creatures that are are dying because of this horrific tragedy.

    June 8, 2010 at 1:00 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Will Richardson, Fort Lauderdale, FL

    So why doesn't BP attach a standard pipe and "move" where the leak is occurring to a more shallow point in the water where formation of hydrates will be less of an issue as the water is warmer closer to the surface. At that point, they should be able to cap it without hydrate formation. It's Day 50, come on guys.

    June 8, 2010 at 1:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • LJK

      That idea is an excellent one. If anyone is familiar with medical devices, they could develop the equivalent of a large cuffed endotracheal tube (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Endotracheal_tube) drop it down into the opening to the well then inflate the cuff then attach some sort of collection device to the top and just pump off all the oil and donate it to the US oil reserves until the relief wells are done.

      June 8, 2010 at 1:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sonnet

      This was exactly my thought on watching the video feed, as well. Seems like the obvious solution over trying to "cap" something with infinite pressure! They're going about it all wrong.

      June 8, 2010 at 10:30 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Nelly

    OBAMA IS TO BLAME, because THE BUCK STOPS AT HIS DESK. BP is an enterprise. Yes, they are responsible, but it is the leader of this country who needs to step up and take charge of the efforts to mitigate this DISASTER. Instead he admits he hadsn't even spoken to the head of BP. WHAT????? This lack of leadership and consern is incredible to me. He needs to camp at the golf beaches and refuse to leave until this is taken care of. I have lost all faith in him. I voted for him because I though he was intelligent. Now, I'm not so sure and I will go and vote in November agaist his party. He has tet us all down. The people voicing their support for him ought to open their eyes. The suffering of humans and animals in the golf is too great to be "cool" about it. I am OUTRAGED.

    June 8, 2010 at 1:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • OKRight

      Wow, you sound really intelligent, idiot

      June 8, 2010 at 1:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Angie

      Some experts are saying that it could be a very long time before they can stop this leak. Releif wells could stop it in August.. and that may not even work. There is a very real need for ongoing clean up until the leak is resolved. Unfortunately, I believe we all share in the responsibilityof these types of disaster. Most families have at least one car,right? How many miles to the gallon does the average SUV get? All the blame I see on this blog is frustrating.

      June 8, 2010 at 2:44 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Steve-O

    Maybe those evangelists had something there with their "Lake of Fire" scare tactics?!!

    June 8, 2010 at 1:05 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Jason

    As a token of apology to the states of Louisiana, Mississippi and Florida, BP should lower their gas costs to $2.00/Gallon for the next 10 years. And then some.

    June 8, 2010 at 1:05 pm | Report abuse |
  11. concernedad7

    OkRight whats your solution? If any?

    June 8, 2010 at 1:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • OKRight

      Hey Dad, you got any of those oil eating microbes laying around, I didn't think so.

      June 8, 2010 at 1:13 pm | Report abuse |
  12. concernedad7

    Look everyone knows that BP wants to retain the oil for usage. lets do something to detroy the oil. MICROBES.

    June 8, 2010 at 1:14 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Ferdi

    As in all open economy, Corporation are allowed to do whatever they want. I blame BP and other oil conglomerates for the problems we are facing right now. In economics, the term is referred to as olligopoly. By limiting the amount of oil reaching the consumers, they and others have created an artificial demand thus keeping the price of petroleum product at prohibitive levels and in the process, continuously fattening their coffers at the nations expense. $13B profit in one quarter, is not pennies. The most disgraceful part of this debacle is, they have the audacy to pretend that they never knew this day was coming. It is akin to keep filling a baloon with water after it is filled up. IT IS GOING TO POP!. That's PHYSICS.

    June 8, 2010 at 1:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Angie

      Perhaps weare all a bit audacious to act like we are surprized that this happened. I am shockedthat it doesn't happen more frequently.

      June 8, 2010 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Dave Fischer

    It isn't rocket science, just clean it up. They have people showing that it sticks to hay like glue, people saying they have hundreds of thousands of acres, of hay to use. we have hundreds of thousands of people unemployed. Obama needs to quit analyzeing ideas for months while the oil washes ashore. start putting americans to work, get them down there, organize who has experiance in what. train who they need to, and put them to work. even if it's just walking the shore line picking up tar balls. we have a coast line from Texas to the Florida panhandle to clean up. fix the oil disaster and the economy at the same time, put hundres of millions of dollars into americans pockets for working instead of handing it over to banks and buisnesses. Thats the only way to fix the economy anyway. People make money, they spend it, which puts more people to work, houses will sell which brings their value back up, the cycle goes on and on. Just quit analyzeing and start putting people to work down there.

    June 8, 2010 at 1:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Angie

      Our scientists know more about the rocket science actually. Working and solving problems at these depths is very difficult. It should definitely be funded better.

      June 8, 2010 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Codifex Maximus

      Remember, it seems they don't want anyone to clean up their oil. They'll come and get it later.

      June 8, 2010 at 6:29 pm | Report abuse |
  15. concernedad7

    NO, I dont but am about 15 min away from a company that produces the oil eating solution. They are waitng and ready to meet demand. Now what?

    June 8, 2010 at 1:17 pm | Report abuse |
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