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. John H.

    All of you right wing nuts are now yelling for the GOVERNMENT to do something!!!! I thought you wanted GOVERNMENT out of your lives. You people make me sick!!!!

    April 30, 2010 at 4:44 pm | Report abuse |
  2. mrrusss

    Now I feel all nice and greased up for when they set the prices higher for the summer.

    April 30, 2010 at 4:47 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Dave California

    "Drill Baby Drill" lady just lost half of her supporters !!

    April 30, 2010 at 4:48 pm | Report abuse |
  4. SB

    Now we are into conspiracy theories? Seriously? WTF! Are we getting stupider by the day? And please stop with saying that the American Government is going to give TARP money to a British company!! Its not going to happen. Why do you guys think your two cents worth is making a difference? As for cleaning up the cluster f*ck that BP did leave behind, there are environmental engineers who have training that know how to do that. If you really want to know, I'll ask my wife (she's one of them, not for BP though). I don't claim to know how to clean it up as I'm not one (I'm just a mechanical engineer), but trust me, they do know how...so stop offering ideas! What should you do? Do as a few posts have said, start conserving energy. Stop driving gas guzzlers. Eat less meat (yes "moo baby moo," that is a true statement...but that doesn't mean we should give up and kill the envinroment...we need to be SMARTER). Purchase more green products. Quit supporting people that don't care about the environment. Realize that oil is needed, but we need to do it responsibly. Realize that we need to add alternative sources. Recycle. For once, think about the world and people around you instead of pointing your finger and putting all the blame elsewhere. Last but not least, take responsibility for your actions realizing that you aren't perfect and nor is anyone else.

    April 30, 2010 at 4:48 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Dave California

    Sarah's Drill Baby Drill just cost half of her supporters !!

    April 30, 2010 at 4:48 pm | Report abuse |
  6. AnyIdeas?

    To L Smith, you wrote: "it going to take a lot of boom–1100 miles of coast line to protect–the boom will have to be replaced when full of crude–GOOD LUCK to everyone", the booms aren't helping at all, the waves (with the oil) are going right over them.

    April 30, 2010 at 4:50 pm | Report abuse |
  7. mrrusss

    Mmmm, "blackened" fish, and shrimp sauteed in a light, sweet sauce.

    April 30, 2010 at 4:53 pm | Report abuse |
  8. MK

    For all the geniuses promoting using torpedos and explosives to stop the leak by blowing it up...what is your plan when that doesnt work? They actually use explosives in the well to fracture the rock and increase oil flow...sounds a little counter productive to me. Plus, then you have hundreds of leak sites that are buried in rubble. I mean really...the well flows because its being squeezed by the force of the earths crust and a mile of water bearing down on it. I doubt a pile of loose rubble is gonna do much. Do you fix your kitchen sink with duct tape (I'm sure someone will say yes)? The water tends to find it's way around a jerry rigged patch doesnt it? This will only exacerbate the problem. Do it right or don't do it at all. And as far as the Navy or some mythical government organization riding in to save the day...what are they going to do that the guys who drill the wells every day havent already tried? "Stop leaking or we'll nuke your ass!!" Hell...it is the US Navy...they might actually think a nuke could solve the problem (I guess it could technically but I don't think that's a positive solution).

    The damage is done. This is the price for America's arrogant attitude of thinking we have the "Right" to drive a tank 30 miles one way to work everyday. Now, millions of people will have their lives destroyed, businesses will fail, tourism is dead, domino, domino, domino...and the 15 million unemployed will become 25 million, but in the end...BP and their accomplices will right it off as a business loss that they will then deduct from their taxes and even if they ever pay anything for this...the US taxpayer will ultimately pay the bill. The only true solution to this cycle is for "We the People" to write up a new Declaration and have a REAL Tea Party instead of these whining bitch sessions that are Tea Parties in name only. Short of that....it's an orwellian future.

    April 30, 2010 at 4:55 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Cres

    After the BP rig event in the Gulf of Mexico, one has to look at BP's operational activities over the past 5 years. There have been 3 major events from BP activities in the last 5 years (the Texas refinery explosion in 2005, the Alaska pipeline spill in 2006 and now the blowout of the Gulf well this week). Each have cost BP hundred(s) of millions of dollars. Taken individually, these events, though financially significant, appear to be accidents. Taken together they suggest a pattern of operational lack of excellence. Looking at the other major oil companies (Exxon-Mobil, Chevron and Shell), I cannot recall any operational event as significant as one of the three from BP since the Exxon Valdez spill in 1989. So over 21 years these three oil companies have not had as significant an operational mishap as any of the three that BP has had in the last five years. This suggests that BP has an organizational culture of cutting corners on operational activities in order to maximize profits relative to the other three majors. If this culture does exist, one can expect additional BP operational failures in the next few years. I hope I am wrong, but the data seem conclusive. The problems BP are causing the oil industry are enormous!

    April 30, 2010 at 4:56 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Scottish Mama

    Why did they put the fire out? Why not let it burn unil the pipe was clamped, shut off, or blown up to seal it? This idea of not letting the fishermen and women help with area that they know the ins and outs of is rediculous. Remember schrimpers band together, help by going to meetings to save the gulf and a lawyer to help save your livelyhoods to get to next year. BP and transocean, step up to the plate, get the rig under control, clean up your mess, don't blame the roughnecks, and repay the fishermen.

    April 30, 2010 at 4:57 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Mike

    Drill Baby Drill...just don't smoke while you're doing it! Seriously, how is Eric Holder and a host of federal attorneys showing up on the gulf coast going to help? BP is liable but no damage is done yet. So much for BP. I suppose once they're bankrupt the remaining suppliers will raise prices because of less competition. What a CF!

    April 30, 2010 at 5:00 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Lu Ann Frisch

    BP- (formerly Standard Oil then Amoco) are financial idiots. They refused to waive a $15 late fee on my credit card bill after having been a customer for 33 YEARS !!!! They brought this bad Ju Ju on themselves !!!!!

    April 30, 2010 at 5:00 pm | Report abuse |
  13. BajaJohn

    Republicans constantly complain about the fiscal legacy being left to the children. Not once, has anyone ever heard a Republican complain about the environmental legacy being left to the children. Amazingly, the fiscal legacy complaints arise from social programs to help all Americans, but not the fiscal legacy like subsidies to big industry and the military-industrial complex. Republicans need to resign en masse, that is, if they have any honor at all.

    April 30, 2010 at 5:04 pm | Report abuse |
  14. mrrusss

    I think we ought to hand those in charge of the rig and BP a bullet and at least give them a chance to do the honorable thing. If they refuse, do it for them. That's how the Communist Chinese would do it, and since we cheerfully tout them producing most of our goods, we should start behaving like them.

    April 30, 2010 at 5:06 pm | Report abuse |
  15. AngryinPensacola

    Off shore drilling has no place EVER in the beautiful waters of the Gulf Coast or on any waters period! Especially when there are NO back up plans for when the valves don't shut off. We are steward sof this great planet and until you have ssen the incredible wildlife, beautiful dolphins, emerald green oceans with sparkling white sands you just can't imagine the disaster that is about to hit. Gulf coast shrimp, oysters, grouper, redfish, red snapper it will all be gone as will pelicans, egrets and turtles and all that sustains these creatures; gone! It will be decades before we recover environmentally if at all. Not to mention the unimaginable impact this will have economically. It takes this type of catastrophic disaster to renew our thinking for alternative energy sources. The blame is squarely on the shoulders of the politicians, the people who voted them in and big oil companies. Yes, I'm angry because we all knew this would happen. But I'm going to be a lot more angry when I'm picking up the dead and dying animals next week.

    April 30, 2010 at 5:08 pm | Report abuse |
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