June 10th, 2010
03:17 PM ET

Day 52: Latest oil disaster developments

[Updated 7:06 p.m.] Here are the latest developments on the oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, which unfolded after the oil rig Deepwater Horizon exploded on April 20:

LATEST DEVELOPMENTS

– National Incident Commander Thad Allen sent a letter Thursday to BP board Chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg asking that he "and any appropriate officials from BP" meet Wednesday with senior administration officials, including President Obama. Read the letter

– The flow of oil from the broken pipe in the Gulf of Mexico - before an insertion tube was placed inside, and BP cut the pipe and put a containment cap on the blowout preventer on June 3 - is now estimated to be from 20,000 barrels to 40,000 barrels per day, a federal scientist said Thursday. The previous estimate by researchers, made two weeks ago, was 12,000 to 19,000 barrels per day.

– BP announced $25 million grants to Alabama, Florida and Mississippi.

CLEANUP

– BP will begin testing a second rig-based system to catch oil this weekend. It would catch an extra 10,000 barrels a day, bringing daily total recovery capacity to 28,000 barrels, said Ken Wells, BP's senior vice president for exploration and production.

– Federal agencies responsible for monitoring the toll to wildlife reported Thursday that 473 oiled birds have been collected alive; 658 were dead. The report said 52 sea turtles have been collected alive; 279 were dead.

– BP has collected about 73,300 barrels (about 3 million gallons) of oil since it placed a containment cap on its ruptured well, the company said.

– The collected oil was transferred from the drilling ship Discoverer Enterprise to a second ship, the Massachusetts, BP said. The Massachusetts will transport the oil for discharge at an onshore terminal.

– Frustration boiled over Thursday as federal and local officials complained at a key Senate governmental affairs subcommittee hearing that it remains unclear who is in charge of the oil disaster response. Among other things, they urged the establishment of a clearer command-and-control system to accelerate the decision-making process and the creation of a more definitive chain of accountability. "I have spent more time fighting the officials of BP and the Coast Guard than fighting the oil," said Billy Nungesser, president of Louisiana's Plaquemines Parish. What is needed is someone "with the guts and the will to make decisions."

– The complaints came one day after federal authorities ordered BP to come up with a contingency plan by Friday for collecting oil that is still gushing out of the ruptured undersea well.

– The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts alongshore currents becoming more westward over the next few days. That should prevent the oil from moving east. But the agency said that coastal regions between Horn Island, Alabama, and Pensacola, Florida, may continue to see oil come ashore on beaches. To the west of the Mississippi Delta, oil still floating on the ocean could come ashore between Timbalier Bay and Southwest Pass.

– Images of oil-soaked birds and turtles have prompted a surge in people wanting to volunteer to help in the cleanup and rehabilitation process, said Anna Keene, programs director at the conservation group Alabama Coastal Foundation.

– Government scientists estimate that the spill's flow rate after last week's cut of the well's riser pipe increased by 4 to 5 percent. That's well below an increase of as much as 20 percent that administration officials had indicated could happen.

– BP Chief Operating Officer Doug Suttles denied Wednesday that BP has ordered cleanup workers not to talk to reporters.

– States are tracking the disaster's health impact, including respiratory and skin irritation problems in Louisiana and Alabama, health officials said.

ECONOMIC ASSISTANCE

– Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum asked BP on Thursday to deposit $2.5 billion into an interest-earning escrow account so the state can be assured of its availability over the long-term recovery period.

– BP has pledged to speed up its payment of claims to businesses affected by the oil disaster, said Tracy Wareing, a Federal Emergency Management Agency adviser to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.

– BP provided more insight into its claims process Tuesday, saying that as of Monday, it has paid nearly $49 million to individuals and businesses affected by the spill. The company also 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 Tuesday that 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 with the preparation of claims forms.

POLITICS

– The Obama administration won't reconsider its moratorium on deepwater oil drilling "without knowing exactly what happened" to cause the oil disaster, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said Thursday. The administration ordered the six-month halt to allow time for an investigation into the sinking of the Deepwater Horizon. But Louisiana officials have argued that the moratorium puts thousands of jobs at risk on the Gulf Coast.

– Some of the rig victims' families have objected to the moratorium. "We support drilling in the Gulf," said the widow of one of the 11 oil rig workers killed in the explosion. "It's an economic need and would devastate Southern states."

– President Obama hosted the families of the 11 workers killed in the BP oil rig explosion at the White House on Thursday afternoon. Victims' family members and congressmen pushed for legislation removing oil drilling liability limits. They said they hoped that holding the corporations responsible would prevent a similar accident from occurring.

– Sen. Patty Murray, D-Washington, blasted BP on Thursday for failing to attend her subcommittee's hearing on oil and gas worker safety. "Honestly, I find it very outrageous that even after an accident that killed 11 workers, BP is not putting a high enough priority on worker safety to send a representative to a hearing specifically focused on protecting workers in their industry," said Murray, the chairwoman of the Senate Health, Education and Labor Committee's Subcommittee on Employment and Workplace Safety.

– House Republican leader John Boehner mocked Congress on Thursday for holding multiple hearings on the disaster before experts have figured out how to stop the undersea gusher. He sarcastically called the packed hearing schedule "Congress at its best."

– 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.

– BP's top official, Tony Hayward, has been asked to appear at a hearing June 17 before the House Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations.

– Advocacy groups are planning a nationwide vigil for later this month.

soundoff (39 Responses)
  1. A Mother Who Would Have Known Better

    Imagine your little girl, in the arms of pirates! Should have thought about this before you "allowed" her to go! Why is it so hard for parents to say NO? This should not have happened. There are safety in numbers, that's why a GOOD SAILOR does not sail alone!

    June 10, 2010 at 5:34 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Florence

    My hat's off to both James Carville and Mary Matlin for their passionate, bi-partisan, defense of their hometown.
    As a French-born US citizen, and a lover of Louisiana way of life, I command them.
    Let us know what we can do to pressure our own government to act, not react.....
    We have been able to send help to Haiti, support Katrina's victims, etc. Now, it seems that there is very little we can do when we see the devastation that is unleashed on Louisiana and its sisters states.
    As individuals, there has to be something that we can do! I keep eating seafood, display my Fleur-de-Lis, e-mail my opinion. But the people of Lousiana deserve better.....

    June 10, 2010 at 7:25 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Texas Slim

    There was a period of time when BP allowed us to believe the well was leaking 1,000 barrels per day. That number was then bumped to 5,000 barrels per day. How could they not immediately recognize the difference between 5,000 barrels per day and up to 40,000 barrels per day. They ARE an oil company.

    June 10, 2010 at 7:40 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Smith in Oregon

    I personally find it utterly disgusting and contemptible for the US Coast Guard to attack and repeatedly run over the Oil Booms which private boat owners have placed along the Florida coastline to prevent the rapidly expanding Oil slick from fouling those pristine beaches.

    YES, the US Coast Guard is smashing the Oil Booms and purposefully steering their vessels across those Oil Booms in their crass and callous attempts to DESTROY THEM!

    American Taxpayers paid for those US Coast Guard vessels and now those same vessels are being used to destroy Crude Oil Spill Booms placed in the water by private American citizens!

    American Taxpayers have paid hundreds of Billions of dollars for the US Navy high tech vessels, why aren't any of those being used to observe and track the large undersea Oil plumes of death as they drift across the Gulf of Mexico? Why isn't the US Navy out in force in the Gulf of Mexico helping this situation?

    American Taxpayers have paid ten's of Billions of dollars for the Recon Spy Satellites which are capable to locating and determining the size of the deep sea underwater Oil plumes of death, WHY is the US Govt. not releasing that information, images and help?

    If Bush-Cheney hadn't entirely burned out the National Guard troops doing FOUR tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, they could be summoned NOW to the Gulf States to help provide actual home land security.

    Remember that 1 Trillion Dollar waste of taxpayer dollars when Bush-Cheney created the gigantic new federal agency and named it 'Dept. of Homeland Security'? Where is that huge sack of Republican Morass NOW? Where is DHS as America is smothered by a wave of crude Oil? Where is DHS as America's food chain is poisoned by a known poison and toxin (crude Oil)?

    The enormous spill in the Gulf of Mexico is a Strategic Threat to America, where is the Dept. of Homeland Security, what are they doing against an actual threat to America's Homeland? NOTHING!
    1 Trillion taxpayer dollars to fund and create that sack of morass and America get's NOTHING in the way of actual Homeland Security, go figure!

    June 10, 2010 at 8:02 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Dan Hazell

    The devastating environmental and social impact is being witnessed here in Europe too. Whether it be BP, Exxon, Haliburton, or whoever, the real focus must now be on the expertise to contain further impact, then pay for the clean up. Despite the rhetoric, BP (which is approx 40% US owned) is the world leader at deep water operations, in no part due to the engineering expertise of US businesses that form the group, if you want the company to go bust then say goodbye to the funds to provide long term restoration and help transform US energy reliance. Generic bashing of 'British Petroleum' as alien miscreants is a dead-end. A US company was responsible for 167 deaths in the North Sea piper-alpha disaster of 1988, which resulted in safety improvements that now need another step-change advance.
    Obama needs to be on the inside of the solution, not acting as whinging counselor about the problem.

    June 10, 2010 at 8:06 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Rae

    Have they tried to drill in another area of the vessel and release the oil in a barge of some sort or large ship.? They don't have to work where the oil is leaking out from; but rather have an alternate site of the rig to release oil properly. There must be a way to do this; instead of having the oil flow out of the damaged area – have control on the oil that still remains in the vessel.

    June 10, 2010 at 10:19 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Gregg

    See the following page on Facebook called "Why is BP Still In Charge?"

    http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=119137921458663#!/group.php?gid=119137921458663&ref=ts

    June 10, 2010 at 11:14 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Kenny

    How about this. Move BP out of the way, not because they are negligent but because we need a new approach. BP has done as much as could be expected for right now. Has anyone even thought of the long term debt form this disaster. BP is sticking to a budget right now, and that will keep the company afloat until this is solved. They can't start real clean-up orperations unitl it is actually capped and a real assesment and analysis has been done. I suspect that they tried to help the people of the gulf by employing them for the clean-up when they knew they were actually just pawns in the game. The purpose was probalby to help the people and families but as usual, they were getting abused by people who saw an easy buck here and there.

    NOW! FIRST USE DARELL'S METHOD FROM ABOVE. IF IT WORKS WE ALL OWE HIM OUR FUTURES. IF NOT! BP OUT! US MILITARY IN. BLOW THE SITE CLEAN WITH A M.O.B. THEN USING MICHAEL'S DEAD WEIGHT SOLUTION TO ACTUALLY SIT A HUGE OBSTACLE ON TOP OF THE OPEN WELL. IF THOSE FAIL, START DUMPING TONS OF GRAVEL ON THE WELL UNTIL RELIEF WELLS CAN BE FINISHED. If this fails, cut the bottom out of an oil tanker and carefully try to lower it over the gushing well. OOPS! We could just use a battle field nuke to try and seal the hole. Well obviously I should have stayed out of this discussion and let BP do it the right way, or NOT! We should all just let BP do what needs to be done the right way and quite putting their feet in the fire. They will pay for this later, that's why we have the best President we've ever had, he'll get them to settle up. I'm am personally tired of all the BP bashing, I've got the answer helpers (back seat drivers), and the military needs to take over Senators. Sorry, but we are all victims on this one and the only qualified people trying to fix the problem are getting hammered over their attempts. ENOUGH!

    By the way, I am not affiliated with BP or anyone for that matter. I actually live in Korea but I feel the pain most of you are going through. It's terrible and I don't like it any more than all of you, but making enemies of BP and the rest of the Europeans won't help anything get done any faster. Let BP do what needs to be done and then let's let Preisdent Obama do what he does best and get all this cleaned up. Sorry if this hurt anyone's feelings.

    People should come together during diasasters, not fight each other over money and responsibilities. We have the world's greatest government and they will do what we elected them to do. bye bye

    June 10, 2010 at 11:30 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Daniel

    Of the 658 dead birds so far I wonder if any of them are on the protected species list and the same for the 279 dead sea turtles. If they are that is a fine that should be paid for by BOP as well just as punishment for there complete lack of reguard for the enviroment.

    The oil that BP is captureing should not be used for company profits either. They shold be required to process it then turn all the othe profits from it over to the people of the affected states, and I do mean the people. If you hand it over to the government, all they will do with it is squander it on sub-commitees and needless research. Like the team of scientist brought together to figure out how much oill is actually being spilled into the gulf. Why not have them figure out how to stop the darn thing instead. Accorsding to some estimates thisa is already 5 times worse than the Exon Valdes.

    As for who shoould be in charge of fixing this I am not sure that anyone agency is capable of it. Some say place it in the hands of the government, but who in the governmnent competant enough to handle this situation. The same goes for BP who seems to want to run this show by themselves and has proven time and again that they are not the sole answer either. What ever the answer is you can be sure that it is the taxpayers that will end up paying the bill. No matter how much the country pays to thopse affected it will still be a tremendous lose for all those concerned.

    June 11, 2010 at 11:26 am | Report abuse |
  10. Lloyd Cata

    Dear Mr. President,

    I know you are trying to preserve the nation and its values during a time of war, economic distress, and now ecological catastrophe, so I will keep this comment relatively short.

    The question I have, as expressed by so many in media and the affected populace, is this, "Why is a Coast Guard admiral responsible for the 'claims process' in the ongoing catastrophe?". No matter his expertise in 'command and control' systems, is it also his expertise to adjudicate the legal ramifications of the disaster?

    Admiral Thad Allen is a man of unquestioned loyalty and service to the people of the United States, however his authority over the people and the land affected is questionable. He is not qualified, nor experienced, in the calculation of damages, nor in the adjudication of claims. That is not to question his ability to determine right from wrong, but his expertise is on the ocean and the shoreline. To place him in a position of financial manager of this catastrophe is unfair and unwise in the extreme. That is why the environmental and claims process has angered so many and disheartened so many more. A working naval admiral cannot, and should not, be the spokesman for the American people. His job is to 'plug the damn hole', not become a spokesman for BP's estimates of damage and claims. There are plenty of lawyers in Washington and affected areas for that.

    June 11, 2010 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse |
  11. josh turner

    I have a idea some people have not thought of yet making a mile long cylinder that will plunge in to the gulf and surround the broken pipe witch has a saw blade end on it to burrow in to the sea floor to create a tight seal and of course there will be vents on the top and hoses to fill up tankers that way BP can work above water just a thought!!!!!!!maybe a good one

    June 11, 2010 at 11:30 pm | Report abuse |
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