April 30th, 2010
09:14 PM ET

Gulf Coast residents brace for potential calamity

Officials anticipate that oil floating toward Louisiana is likely to reach land sometime Friday.

(Update 9:13 p.m.) EPA administrator Lisa Jackson said Friday there is a chance that workers will be able to stop the flow of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, but warned that the EPA is preparing for the worst.

"There is still the opportunity and the possibility that they would be able to shut it down," Jackson told CNN Chief National Correspondent John King. "Of course as responders we have to look at the worst case, and keep planning for that."

Jackson's comments come as the federal government is ramping up the pressure on BP to do more to stop well leaks gushing thousands of barrels of oil into waters off Louisiana. The government is also pushing BP to beef up its response as a giant oil slick approaches the Louisiana coast.

In the interview on CNN's John King USA that aired Friday, Jackson responded to questions about the level of trust the Obama administration had in BP immediately following the April 20 oil rig explosion that also resulted in 11 presumed deaths.

"I don't think it was ever a question of trust in the company, I think it was a question of responding to the set of facts as we came to understand them," Jackson said. "The situation has certainly worsened. It began as a human tragedy, it is now what I think is an environmental challenge of the highest order."

(Update 7:42 p.m.) Sen. David Vitter announced the closure of several oyster beds in eastern Louisiana, but kept the western parts open, CNN affiliate WDSU reports.

The director for Rouses Supermarket, which has stores across the Gulf Coast, including southern Louisiana and Mississippi, said all seafood on the shelves is safe, according to WDSU.

"Everything that is coming into the markets and restaurants is coming from the west part of the Mississippi River," Seafood Director James Bruel told WDSU.

"Everything we get is traceable. Anything that comes through our back doors has an invoice of where it came from. Everything right now is 100 percent safe to eat," he said.

(Update 6:48 p.m.) U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has approved Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal's request to mobilize 6,000 National Guard troops in response to the massive oil spill expanding in the Gulf of Mexico, according to a Defense Department spokesman.

(Update 5:25 p.m.) The federal government is heightening the pressure on BP, pushing the oil company to do more to stop well leaks gushing thousands of barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico and to beef up its response to the potential environmental impact on the coast.

"We'll continue to urge BP to leverage additional assets," U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano told reporters Friday as the massive oil slick approached the Louisiana coast. "It is time for BP to supplement their current mobilization as the slick of oil moves toward shore."

BP, which owns the ruptured well, said officials expect oil to reach land sometime Friday, with Venice and Port Fourchon the first places likely to be affected.

Doug Suttles, chief operating officer of BP, said the company has had only three priorities since the April 20 rig explosion that led to the oil spill: stop the flow of oil, minimize its impact and keep the public informed.

"We've so far mounted the largest response effort ever done in the world," Suttles said at the same news conference. "We've utilized every technology available, we've applied every resource request. ... We welcome every new idea and every offer of support."

(Update 3:47 p.m.) U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has ordered inspections of all deep-water operations in Gulf of Mexico.

The Department of Interior will also establish a new Outer Continental Shelf Safety Board to conduct a review of offshore drilling practices and safety issues and tighten the oversight of equipment testing, he said.

(Update 3:41 p.m.)  The American Bird Conservancy, the nation's leading bird conservation organization, released a list of key bird sites they say are most immediately threatened by the ongoing Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf.

They are: the Gulf Coast Least Tern Colony; the Lower Pascagoula River – including the Pascagoula River Coastal Preserve; the Gulf Islands National Seashore; Breton National Wildlife Refuge – including the Chandeleur Islands; Dauphin Island; Fort Morgan Historical Park; Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge; Eglin Air Force Base; Delta National Wildlife Refuge; and Baptiste Collette Bird Islands.

(Update 2:20 p.m.) A roundup of some of the latest developments:

- More than 217,000 feet of boom, or barrier, is assigned to contain the spill. An additional 305,760 feet is available.

- 139,459 gallons of dispersant have been deployed and an additional 51,000 gallons are available.

- Gov. Bob Riley of Alabama met with members of his Cabinet to give them the latest information on the oil slick in the gulf and to tell them to reach out to citizens and businesses that could be affected.

- Biloxi Mayor A.J. Holloway discussed oil-spill preparations with key  department heads and will ask the City Council to declare a state of emergency.

- Two Air Force Reserve C-130s from 910th Airlift Wing out of Youngstown  Ohio have arrived at Stennis Airfield in Hancock County Mississippi to help.  

- BP has set up a "Vessel of Opportunity" program for vessel owners to  offer their services to assist with response efforts.

- To supplement its Houma, Louisiana incident command post, BP is now establishing a similar onshore incident command post in Mobile, Alabama to  oversee the onshore response in Mississippi, Alabama and Florida.

(Update 2:12 p.m.) A number of organizations are recruiting volunteers to help with the effects of the oil spill. Here’s how you can help.

(Update 1:31 p.m.)  Attorney General Eric Holder is sending a team of Justice Department attorneys to the Gulf Coast to meet with federal prosecutors and response teams, the Justice Department said in a statement released Friday.

"The Justice Department stands ready to make available every resource at our disposal to vigorously enforce the laws that protect the people who work and reside near the Gulf, the wildlife, the environment and the American taxpayers," the statement said.

(Update 1:10 p.m.) The oil spill could threaten hundreds of species of wildlife, some in their prime breeding season, environmental organizations said.

"The terrible loss of 11 workers (unaccounted for after the rig explosion) may be just the beginning of this tragedy as the oil slick spreads toward sensitive coastal areas vital to birds and marine life and to all the communities that depend on them," said Melanie Driscoll, director of bird conservation for the Louisiana Coastal Initiative, in a statement.

(Update 12:57 p.m.) Track the oil spill with this map and tell us how it is affecting you.

(Update 11:58 a.m.) President Barack Obama is ordering Interior Secretary Ken Salazar "to conduct a thorough review" of the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon rig and subsequent oil spill.

He said domestic oil production continues to be "an important part of our overall strategy" but said "it must be done responsibly for the safety of our workers and our environment." 

(Update 11:54 a.m) Florida Gov. Charlie Crist has declared a state of emergency in the Panhandle coastal counties of Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, Walton, Bay, and Gulf.

Officials anticipate that oil floating toward Louisiana is likely to reach land sometime Friday, with Venice and Port Fourchon, being the first places affected, said BP spokesman Mike Abendhoff.

Officials monitoring the Gulf oil spill have not yet confirmed reports that oil reached land in the morning hours. Full story

A roundup of other developments:

- Louisiana's Gov. Bobby Jindal has declared a state of emergency and asked the Defense Department to approve funding for the deployment of 6,000 National Guard troops.

- Along the Gulf coast business owners are concerned about the potential impact on the bottom line. The oil slick coming ashore "would put us out of business," fisherman Rene Cross in Venice, Louisiana, told CNN affiliate WDSU. 

- Dave Rauschkolb who owns three restaurants on the Florida Panhandle says: "We are a seasonal economy.  If I don't have my summer business, I am out of business." Full story

Here are highlights from the latest briefing Friday by the Joint Information Center, which is coordinating response to the oil spill.

- Nearly 2,000 personnel are involved in the response

- More than 217,000 feet of boom assigned to contain the spill.  An additional 305,760 feet is available.

- To date, the oil spill response team has recovered 20,313 barrels (853,146 gallons) of an oil-water mix. 

- 75 response vessels are being used including skimmers, tugs, barges and recovery vessels.

- Five staging areas are in place and ready to protect sensitive shorelines: Mississippi; Pensacola, Florida; Venice, Louisiana; Pascagoula, Mississippi; and Theodore, Alabama. A sixth staging area is being set up in Port Sulphur, Louisiana.

- Winds on Friday are from the southeast at 20 knots Seas are 5- to 7- feet, with slight chance of afternoon showers.

soundoff (463 Responses)
  1. Regina Joyce

    What a tragedy for the residents of LA and the precious wildlife! Solar power is the answer!
    We must invest now! Let's start saving the earth today! President Obama, please move forward with "green" energy - solar power!

    April 30, 2010 at 4:12 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Workin4U

    We have refused to develop water desalinization technology for the last 70 years. You desalinize, then generate Hydrogen fuel for the cars, byproduct Oxygen, and you also have the technogy to create fresh water to irrigate and produce more food. At this stage we must combine fison, and electricity to run the Hydorogen facilities. The facilities generate Oxygen, Hydorogen, electricity, and fresh water. Soon Fusion will be ready to help. Forget how the Saudis run desaliization – they are fools. We need the heat od fusion – over 100 million degress to desalinate. You have to desaliniate on the coast, pump the fresh water output inline in pipelines, put the hydrogen facilites in deserts and other inland open areas (in casee they blow), and pipeline the hydrogen out. Eventually we should all be able to make our our hydrogen in our backyards to fuel our cars. No gas stations exceopt for travel. Deserts provide abundant Solar support for the Hydrogen facilites.
    And evey man and women should be guaranteed a job and a freely provided homw and land to work this national transition effort. Solve the energy, the economy, the balance of world power, with one concerted effort. Oil is done. It is a technology whose day has come and gone. The only reason it is being used os for the quick profit of a few. The US government shoudl immediately seize all assets of BP just like they do thsoe of an enmy combatant whose existence is a threat to the well being of the country.

    It not about the oil or the oil companies. It about wokring together to provide for ourselves. It is about freedom and indepenence. The ability to stand on our own feet. The US govenment has failed in a catastraphic way. AND the still refuse to use OUR tax dollars to build the correct infrastructure. Too little too late. They must stop sitting on it and change direction. We needs the jobs, we need new fuel, we have the technology, but the US government wont let America do what we need to do now. We need to build not destroy, but we need to build the right stuff. And if we build it we should all share it for free, not let a private company enslave us to their fuel. We can make our won fuel and we can give it out for free. WE can pay the farmer for the food, the tailor for the clothes, but the fuel, that should be a commonly own utility paid for with our tax dollars and shared out for free. Come on folks. Is this current way better – we are about to destroy the greatest coasts in our best states that took 3 million years to make.

    No – I dont buy either the Republicans or the democrats garbage. We have what we need. We need to stop letting the Government give it to the oil companies and we need to make our our fuel and own our own facilties. If the bureaucrats cant get it together then we need to rise up and just take it back.

    Come on, let's see Mitt Romney go there now and solve this oil slick problem. He cant, he wont, so why should anybody consider him our future solution for anything. We, you and me, we are all we've got. WE are the solution. We CAN do it. So WHEN, when will we stop buying dope from Washington, bring our loved ones home, and get on with building our country into a home for our grandchildren. Are we all to be considered enemy combatants if we want to have freedom and run our own lives and set our wons laws and build our own fuel facilities????? Washington needs to let go of the money and take us down the path we need to go.

    Everyone knew that offshroe drilling would lead to this mess. And duh? It has. So Washington has stuck bubble gum in our hair while we sat in front of them in school. How long are we supposed to take this. When will we demand that our taxes be used to provide the infrastructure required. We are funding all the wrong things. All the money is being embezzeled by the Treasury itself.

    Remember in the fifties and sixties when they schools told us this stuff only happens in communist Russia and how the govenment supresses the people so they cant do anything about it. And we have to be teh Free World to stop the spread of this type of govenment. Well.... ITs not just wihtes and blacks joining in the south now over a common problem, the birds, the gators, the snakes, the fish, our dogs and cats, crayfish. Hey man we are ALL together in a huddle now. The fish and birds and animals were all counting on us, the humans to take care of them, because we were the more intelligent species, the master over all the earth. Well, some of us are , and some of us are not even human anymore. We should all be helping, but we cant do that because- becasue we are not free. If we try to help, we lose our jobs, then they take our homes, then they take our children.

    The answers are here. But no one is going down that path. Only the big oil companies are given the money to find new fuel and produce it. So – have they? The answer to this question is washing up on your shores now.

    April 30, 2010 at 4:13 pm | Report abuse |

    For all the people that feel the need to remind everyone that computers and cars rely on fossil fuels for power need to consider that if the US infrastructure were (re)designed in a way that that did not utilize fossil fuels, those of us who are opposed to them would gladly not use them. If you want to survive in this country and not live in a dumpster you have to do engage in some sort of activity that relates to fossil fuels...and it sucks. Unfortunately, not every town is designed with cyclists or pedestrians in mind, but I digress.

    My point is big oil and really all corporations have a strangle hold on the average consumer and they really could care less about your party affiliation or your convictions. What also differentiates this catastrophe from auto accidents or plane crashes is that right now...at this moment Mother Nature is being raped. Entire eco-systems will be altered for years if not decades from this. The thousands of species wild life and acres of habitat did not ask for this. How dare we be so arrogant to assume that does not matter! It makes me sick!

    April 30, 2010 at 4:16 pm | Report abuse |
  4. RatDog67

    I'm innocent by proxy.... I was born into this oil sucking world. Just as I was born into the child molesting catholic religion. Does that make me a pedophile? Unless this was an act of terrorism then right now it is nothing more than a preventable accident and our current agenda should be cleaning this mess up. There will be time enough for blaming later. When we stand at the brink and stare utter and through destruction in the face will we have the ability to change. Our current thinking capacity enables us to do so at this time... Though I think the time will be here soon enough.

    April 30, 2010 at 4:18 pm | Report abuse |
  5. SpillBaby

    I see barbie is about as far away from this mess as possible.
    Did she screech our drill drill drill in MN today?

    April 30, 2010 at 4:18 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Petey

    The government, which has the ultimate burden of protecting our shores, had 8 full days to prepare a coordinated response to this crisis. Instead they foolishly chose to "trust" BP to clean up its own mess, and now they want to cite BP's untrustworthiness as the reason the crisis got out of hand. This marks the second time in five years that an American administration has botched the response to a major domestic crisis, and in the aftermath of each miserable failure, not one person in either administration was willing to own up to its responsibility. Where in the name of Caesar's ghost to we get these bumblers? What is wrong with us as a people that we entrust such incompetents with the care of our country?

    April 30, 2010 at 4:19 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Joey

    Let's text all of the endagered species and tell them to get out!

    April 30, 2010 at 4:19 pm | Report abuse |
  8. SB

    Man, why did I even try...I forgot...this board and seemingly the rest of the US just wants to point the finger to one side or the other. "Its all Democrats fault...they are terrible...they are killing corporate America!" "No, its the Republican's fault, they are for the rich...they want to give all the profit to corporate America!" Can't you see that the real truth is in the middle and can't be summed up by a three word phrase of "Drill baby drill." If your only arguments are snipits you hear off of cnn, msnbc, or fox news...then please, just do the nation a favor and don't vote. What happened to the days where experts in the field got to weigh in on what was right or wrong? Thanks cnn for adding these stupid posts...it just perpetuates the problem. Have and open mind and do some damn research people!

    April 30, 2010 at 4:20 pm | Report abuse |
  9. SpillBaby

    How's all of dat der drilley offshorey stuff workin out fer ye'all?
    You betcher.

    April 30, 2010 at 4:20 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Jim

    Send Lawyers. Yeah, that'll help.

    April 30, 2010 at 4:23 pm | Report abuse |
  11. John

    I just want to thank everyone who posted here for giving me a good laugh. I'm just glad none of you are in charge of this cleanup process.

    April 30, 2010 at 4:23 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Mary Hoover

    You're right MK #91 – You've said it best!

    April 30, 2010 at 4:23 pm | Report abuse |
  13. David

    How can I submit an idea for a solution to the oil leak? Explanation and Diagram

    April 30, 2010 at 4:24 pm | Report abuse |
  14. thequestioner

    Additionally, this disaster could very well bankrupt BP and I am personally not willing to give one single DIME to bail them out!!!! How much you wanna bet that they'll file bankruptcy to avoid having to pay all of these costs back. They'll then ask for bailout/TARP money to pay for the cleanup and we will all end up paying for it out of our taxes. We have GOT to get off this oil addiction and work on alternative energy resources!!!!

    April 30, 2010 at 4:24 pm | Report abuse |
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