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. Jake

    With recent news Halliburton was pouring concrete just shortly before the explosion in the gulf, and Halliburtons recent acquirement of Boots and Coots oil company one has to consider the possibility that not only did Halliburton cause this disaster but they may be tapped to clean it up as well. Profiting from their own blunders, at our expense.

    May 1, 2010 at 3:18 am | Report abuse |
  2. Dmuse

    I love how every negative comment about Hussein Obama is considered racist and how exactly does it pertain to this oil spill? All the negative comments about all the other presidents werent considered racist–just Obama.When are ya'll going to quit beatin that dead horse???GET OVER IT.

    May 1, 2010 at 3:28 am | Report abuse |
  3. Joe

    Will the real Drill Babies please stand up, please stand up ... and clean up your mess...

    May 1, 2010 at 3:43 am | Report abuse |
  4. Brent

    How about this for an idea . Why dont all you turds who are worried about the cost or political agendas . SHUT THE HELL UP! We have a crisis on our hands . I've lived in Panama City florida my whole life once the worlds most beautiful beaches before the invention of the condo . But nationaly i cant understand why people are not coming together to do what they can . Enough lying enough pointing fingers . Lets work on fixing the problem/problems then we can mail our bills acordingly to bp .

    May 1, 2010 at 5:47 am | Report abuse |
  5. Raj R

    I am not an experienced person in Oil rigging.Can we use liquid nitrogen to freeze the oil spills?

    May 1, 2010 at 7:48 am | Report abuse |
  6. Alex Stepanyk

    "I love how every negative comment about Hussein Obama is considered racist and how exactly does it pertain to this oil spill? All the negative comments about all the other presidents werent considered racist–just Obama".

    Dumbmuse, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to SMELL YOUR RACISM. It stinks from every word of your idiotic post! But your anger is understandable. The days of white men like you running EVERYTHING are coming to an end, and you're SCARED. But you are TOO STUPID to be afraid of those people that you SHOULD BE scared of – other white men in SUITS. The ones on Wall Street and those running the banks, the big corporations, and the oil companies. THOSE are the men that endanger YOUR WAY OF LIFE more than any guy named Hussein, but idiots like you stay glued to the radio listening to Rush Scumbaugh. The average middle class white man SHOULD BE MAD AS HELL, but not at "liberals" or blacks, or Obama. They should be mad at those OTHER WHITE MEN who declared war on the middle class 30 some odd years ago and have pretty much finished it off. But liars like Scumbaugh are skilled at making IDIOTS LIKE YOU MIS-DIRECT your anger.

    May 1, 2010 at 8:58 am | Report abuse |
  7. LSmith

    To Raj R I think liquid nitrogen would have worked at the surface just as in Kuwait just after the Gulf War.It would be difficult to direct the flow from the surface without thusters at the end of the coil tubing for control–the pressure drop 9 degrees per 100 psi
    would be quickly frozen at the end of the tubing.With the pressure being about 2500 psi from ocean water and the wellbore being 7700psi it could take 2-5 years for the well to stop flowing–they will need all the help they can get!!

    May 1, 2010 at 9:58 am | Report abuse |
  8. J. Wyant

    The government's current response to this disaster-in-the-making is reminiscent of Katrina.
    My low tech solution is to position a (super)tanker above "spill" and pump oil aboard. This would save the local environment/shorelines from decades of devastation. This oil could be separated from seawater and refined. Perhaps BP would rather pay for a Valdez type "cleanup" affront.

    May 1, 2010 at 2:46 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Alan

    The oil is already in the marshlands. It doesn't actually become high ground for up to 100 miles from the shore in some places.

    I hate to think it much less say it, but the eco system in the gulf has been destroyed. I strongly suggest that those people in the affected region either relocate or prepare for aobut 10 years of Great Depression-era living conditions.

    For now, while food prices are still normal, they should stock up both at the store and online.

    I use this site for my own preps: http://www.familysurvivalcenter.com/supplies.htm

    Up here in the Pacific Northest we prepare for earthquakes and volcanic events. BUt the preps are basically the same regardless of where and what you are dealing with.

    Good luck to you all!

    May 1, 2010 at 2:56 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Phil4us

    What caused the explosion? This question is missing from every story I read so far, after looking at a minimum of 8 stories so far. Next question: what happened to journalism?

    May 1, 2010 at 3:01 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Charell Williams

    Was this a terrorist attack? I mean, if "they" can get close to the USS Cole, the WTC (twice), pirates can take over a multi-ton water vessel, then why cannot "they" get close to an oil rig and set off an explsion of some sort? This is very very sad, my prayers to all those affected, I wonder how old my three year old will be once it's all cleaned up.

    We need to change our current path people. Me included.

    May 1, 2010 at 6:50 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Lloyd

    Yes there are safer blow-out preventer valves this will be brought out in the bp congressional hearing some of These safer valves cost 300 to 700 million dollars chump change when paying this over the life of the oil rig.

    May 2, 2010 at 2:18 am | Report abuse |
  13. Lloyd

    Yes there are safer blow-out preventer valves this will be brought out in the bp congressional hearing some of These safer valves cost 300 to 700 million dollars chump change when paying this over the life of the oil rig

    May 2, 2010 at 2:21 am | Report abuse |
  14. joe

    look sheep...stop pointing fingers..THIS IS WORSE THAN THEY SAY OR WILL SAY...I live here....WATER SPOUTS TORNADOES HURRICANES WITH OIL IN THEM...get real..THE GULF IS RUINED and we dont know if this was done on purpose or not...PALIN DIDNT DO IT SHEEP...the gulf is ruined our economy is tourist based WHO IS GOING TO COME TO AN OIL BEACH...its done worse has happened...DRILL BABY DRILL...thats all we will have left here...SHHEEEEP ALL OF YOU BBAAAHHH LIL SHEEP BAHH

    May 2, 2010 at 10:05 am | Report abuse |
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