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. niha

    The oil spill at the gulf of Mexico threatening Louisiana shores, i have an idea why don't we try to blow the oil rigid head underneath the sea by bombing, to drop 5000 lbs blockbuster(bunker buster) bomb, thereby capping it the oil spill to save marine life and our shores. Please pass on the message to US authorities.

    April 30, 2010 at 12:29 pm | Report abuse |
  2. rbon

    They should still "Drill Baby, Drill"

    April 30, 2010 at 12:30 pm | Report abuse |
  3. bigoil

    Every single one of you people bitching about oil companies are a bunch friggin idiots. You have absolutely no clue what you are talking about. I guarantee that 90% of you bozos going on and on about killing the planet, and oil companies suck and blah blah blah are driving around in SUV's and mini vans and would scream bloody murder if you had to ride a bike to work. This was an accident people. Accidents happen, it's a dangerous world out there. Everyone bitches about our dependence on foreign oil but yet you dont want to drill domestic....you cant have both and your carbon dependent lifestyles at the same time...hypocrites

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

    Does anyone know where I can find out more about the blow out valve that appears to have failed when they hit high pressure gas? Were there safer more modern alternative valves? If we keep drilling, I would like us to invest some money in safer equipment. It would be a fraction of the cost of this leak/spill.

    April 30, 2010 at 12:30 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Aubrie

    Hope everyone is enjoying their beaches and seafood while they can!! It will be years before you do so again......

    April 30, 2010 at 12:31 pm | Report abuse |
  6. EH

    Just pay for your mistakes big oil!

    April 30, 2010 at 12:32 pm | Report abuse |
  7. marshall wolfe

    suck up the oil as it comes out of the pipe under the sea onto oil tankers

    April 30, 2010 at 12:33 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Mark Ellis

    In the end, the cover-up on this disaster may be broader than the spill itself.

    April 30, 2010 at 12:33 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Tp

    Think all the BP "Suits" need to have their sleeves rolled up & prepare to clean oil from feathers...

    April 30, 2010 at 12:34 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Rich M

    It must be George Bush's fault

    April 30, 2010 at 12:35 pm | Report abuse |
  11. WPC

    To all the knee jerkers out there thinking we should drill our oil at all. Im totally ticked off too because Pensacola is my favorite summer spot. However, it's all about implementing and overseeing safety measures on rigs. It's been over 20 years since the last major spill. Now that this has happened, do you think that its likely to happen again any time soon if we implement further measures?

    Second thought...lets just let the middle east keep in a choke hold until we can develop alternative energy sources. We are one pissed off country away from paying $6,7 or 8 per gallon.

    April 30, 2010 at 12:37 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Jim

    So, why is it that the United States is the only country in the world that does not require the shut off valves required by every other country? Changing the requirements would be a good start.

    And I totally agree that we should use this as an excuse to not develop and drill. I love sending my money to countries like Iran to buy their oil. NOT!

    What other excuses will guys lean on to take the easy way out while empowering other countries of the world?

    April 30, 2010 at 12:39 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Curtis Matthews

    We all suffer from this but we need to think and work harder so this is prevented in the future.
    Dam gas prices will go up again.

    April 30, 2010 at 12:40 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Robert Jay

    We cannot free ourselves fast enough from the addiction to oil . What I struggle with is since we must accept this as a primary energy source why haven't the oil companies who rake in billions of dollars in profits be forced to develop a comprehensive way of dealing with the clean up to these catastrophies? Surely with todays technologies and some common sense preparation these incredibly rich companies could be better focused and preparted for the inevitable. They don't invest in building refineries, they create and control their own market demand, they force the public to take it or leave it, they develop and promote no aletrantives energy sources, lobby against competition, buy up competitive inventions,and they try to protect the environment with some hammer and chisel prehistoric methods. If methods for drilling were still the equivelant to their clean up technology we would not consume half the oil we do because iy would not be availble. For once lets get realistic at look at the root cause and requirements of the issue and quit making excuses until "next time"! It is more than apprent this will take more of a kick start than letting the oil companies motivate themselves.

    April 30, 2010 at 12:41 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Electric_Car_Guy

    Just pay for your mistakes, gasoline engine drivers who want cheap gas! http://www.evalbum.com/1752

    April 30, 2010 at 12:41 pm | Report abuse |
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