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. stan

    BP is only a small part of the problem, doesn't trans ocean own the equipment, and Halliburton is involved as well?
    The president is being blamed for mistakes of Bush and Cheney even though Obama could of imposed more regulations on oil companies as he took the office but I am sure he would of been opposed by big business and the Republican Machine.

    June 8, 2010 at 1:19 pm | Report abuse |
  2. OKRight

    Maybe you should get a plane and fill it up with those little varments and get down there and do a fly over the Gulf, drop the payload and bam, everything will be OK.

    June 8, 2010 at 1:21 pm | Report abuse |
  3. concernedad7

    yeah well we all know that BP and Haliburton Bush and Chaney are playing naked leap frogs enjoying the money being raked in from using there own equipment and toxic disbursement solution.

    June 8, 2010 at 1:23 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Tom

    First boycott BP. Sieze all liquid assets of BP to pay for cleanup. It's time to get serious about alternative energy sources. I realize that all of our legislators are tied to lobbyists for donations for re-election campaigns, but eliminate all lobbyists. Then we can finally get around to using all of the brilliant engineers and inventors that we have to come up with the alternative energy answer. We won't have to fight riidiculous red tape placed into law for the protection of the oil industry.

    June 8, 2010 at 1:25 pm | Report abuse |
  5. concernedad7

    Look I dont have the finances to do something like that OKrighBut I am concerned for human life and life in general. I am more than willing to give myself in anyway to help if it means saving thousands in the now and in the furture. Let me know how I can.

    June 8, 2010 at 1:29 pm | Report abuse |
  6. stan

    I wish the best for all workers and residents of the Gulf and Florida and all who make their living from the Gulf. The spill may change the Coast line for generations to come and only years of cleanup and billions of dollars can restore the mess. I hope that America learns from this tragedy and invests in alternative fuels and converts to a green country as this will and could happen again. I hope that bp becomes humble after this incidence and transforms the industry to lead into greener energy.

    June 8, 2010 at 1:30 pm | Report abuse |
  7. concernedad7

    All I am saying is if there could be a solution, (For a cleanup).Why havent we look more into it. What would be the bad effects of the usage in oil eating mircobes?

    June 8, 2010 at 1:33 pm | Report abuse |
  8. stan

    day 50 and the oil is still gushing is a problem that no one ever imagined. There has to be end soon but must be so difficult to fix with already thousands of the brightest minds already working on it.

    June 8, 2010 at 1:44 pm | Report abuse |
  9. damiao

    S.OS http://www.englishtips-self-taught.blogspot.com

    June 8, 2010 at 2:31 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Kristina - Chicago, via Victoria, BC, Canada

    So, where are all the "Save the Gulf" concerts? Where are the TV benefits with celebrities and musicians giving heart felt speeches on the poor fisherman, 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 but sit on their asses for this one!

    June 8, 2010 at 2:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Angie

      Not sitting on their asses. Riding around in their gas guzzling vehicles.. just kidding. Quit complaining and get busy organizing a fundraiser.

      June 8, 2010 at 2:54 pm | Report abuse |
  11. PLANET EARTH CRIES

    I don't think people relize the environmental damage this is causing. everyone is talking about who's fault it is why it could not be remediated quickly. I agree drilling a mile down is a huge risk and not havining a recovery plan that would work is a problem. Has anyone thought of this disaster could wipe out our planet? soon the oceans will be black. The oil cavern could be very large and have enough oil to pump out for multiple years. this is no different than a catastrophic event like an astroid hitting the earth or a nuclear bomb going off. Messing with the planet in this fashion could change our lives globally. Thanks BP for taking such a big risk not having a solid plan to deal with this. Is planet Mars our next home?

    June 8, 2010 at 3:31 pm | Report abuse |
  12. PLANET EARTH CRIES

    Which is more important right now. Spending billions on a war in iraq that is going nowhere or an oil spill that can wipe out human existence ? OBAMA reallocate the resources. Do whatever it takes to plug this flippin hole. Get on the phone and get technology in place to deal with this; we don't need any more night vision gogles. Take control and work with BP NOW!

    June 8, 2010 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
  13. TrailorParkGal

    Everyone sure has something to say about this oil thang. Well, I feel its not BPs FAULT. Things happen everyday but the clock still gotta keep ticking til it gets fixed. My hobby is FISHING. And, I fish alot here in Nashville Tn. I feel so SORRY for all the Wildlife and Families down there. But, come on everybody understand a person just cant JUMP do things so easy in the ocean. This Robot thang that BP has put down there...... You gotta look at how hard & fast the water moving underneathe. As, I see on CNN it just broke away from the oil thang. ALL THOSE WILDLIFE PICTURES SHOULD NOT BE SHOWN ON TV. CHILDREN DONT NEED TO SEE THAT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I DO KNOW THERES FOLKS WHO REALLY WANT TO SEE THOSE PICTURES BUT I FEEL ITS NOT RIGHT TO BE SEEN. WE(TN) JUST HAD A FLOOD SO WILD PICTURES OF OUR ANIMALS WERENT SHOWN. IN OTHER WORDS PLEASE, STOP PICTURES. Thank-you CNN and eveyone else whom gives us info about the SPILL . GOD BLESS OUR TROOPS AND FAMILIES!! PEACE.

    June 8, 2010 at 3:54 pm | Report abuse |
  14. TrailorParkGal

    Theres nothing Obama can do about this sitution. Dont be thinking I cant stand Obama cause he is a wonderful man. All he can do is show his face then leave the scene. I feel that BP will slowly but surely get this under control. Just like we will slowly but surely here in TN get back on feet from this flood issue. Everyone just live your DAYS out to the fulliest cause WE LIVING THE LAST DAYS OUT!!!!! BRING OUR TROOPS HOME!!!

    June 8, 2010 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • $

      Yeah, BP will get it under control... but at what cost to the enviorment?

      June 8, 2010 at 4:55 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Pennyy

    Right, BP will fix everything, even bring all the dead animals back to life.

    June 8, 2010 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
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