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. MK

    People are funny. If you drilled a hole every 10 ft along the entire perimeter of the US and attached the mother of all pumps, you still couldnt get a fraction of the oil under the sands of the middle east. And beyond that...their oil is CHEAP to produce. The Saudis can produce a BARREL of oil for less than $2 TOTAL.

    Even if you suck every drop of oil available from US lands, they will still have 10 times more and giggle all the way to the bank. My point here is...we will always be dependent on Foreign Oil in the US until we get off our collective asses and develop a REAL alternative fuel. SO, if this is the case, why dont we continue using the cheap, easily produced oil from the middle east til THEY run out, THEN when the technology has developed to where we aren't selling out our children's future and destroying the ONLY HOME WE HAVE, we produce this oil.

    And dont give me some crap about we can't let OPEC control us blah blah. The US has a proven track record of blowing the SHIT outta anyone who gets in the way of its thirst for oil (even if you think it was for WMDs oh naive ones). The only reason oil is being produced domestically is because US oil companies and the politicians they own get rich off of it. It does NOTHING for you and I. You do realize that the US EXPORTS OIL EVERY DAY, RIGHT? If we NEED this oil to fight off the mean ole OPEC countries...why do we sell it to other countries? PROFIT!!!!!!!!

    Then again, the human race has become a virus on this planet and I'm confident good ole Mother Nature will clean our clocks soon enough so it probably doesnt matter. And yes, I drive. A zero emmission Ford Focus. I realize we have to have oil for nearly everything as our world currently exists...but be honest. US oil production has nothing to do with security. Its about money. And that's all anyone cares about. Don't believe me? Ask someone in the Gulf of Mexico.

    April 30, 2010 at 1:49 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Luis

    people have to understand that this is not Alaskans prudhoe bay, this is the gulf of mexico which runs around all of Florida and goes north past Newfoundland. This spill could wind up in New York, Boston etc.
    Goodbye fish for the next generation. This spill might have global implications and already is a life changing event for the Gulf of Mexico. All of you that still want to drill the ocean don't worry, you might not mind the oily smell, dead wildlife and lost visitor dollars, but we Floridians do. This might kill the gulf states. How about drilling in the massive underground oil field under the Dakodas instead? I have heard that according to the geological dept. study done in 2009 there is more oil under there than in saudi arabia.

    April 30, 2010 at 1:49 pm | Report abuse |
  3. rhonda

    I will never ever buy one drop of BP Gas again. I'd rather walk than use any product from that company.

    April 30, 2010 at 1:49 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Concern FLoridian

    Why can't they get a few hundred oil barges out there and just suck the oil right out of the water. Clearly it can't be that challenging? Craft is capable of being towed on an ocean voyage for delivery to an overseas base. This would seem like the most reasonable approach.

    April 30, 2010 at 1:51 pm | Report abuse |
  5. greg breaux

    why not cut a 15 foot square in the bottom of a barge, pipe to it with flex hose, sink it on top of the well head, and pump the bulk of the oil to another barge or ship?? we got these mini subs that can help guide it down

    April 30, 2010 at 1:53 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Jon

    for those of you blaming the president for agreeing to more offshore drilling, it was because he had to in order to get the GOP to agree to his energy proposals. Do you all have such short term memories that you forgot the right wings drill baby drill chants. The GOP lies that the the president doesn't negotiate with them. Opening up off shore drilling was exactly that, appeasing the GOP. What I get out of this is, Mr. President, do not listen to the GOP ever again. We know whose interest they are out to protect.

    April 30, 2010 at 1:54 pm | Report abuse |
  7. GAA326

    Jack49 you are right it does not take a "genious" it takes a GENIUS to win the White House.

    April 30, 2010 at 1:54 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Xrhea

    It's time to get serious about alternatives. Solar, hemp oil, algae....

    April 30, 2010 at 1:54 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Mark

    Ok, maybe this is simplistic, but don't we have a few submarines in the gulf ? Would it make any sense to just fire a torpedo at the borehole? Or, send down an unmanned submersible & see if we can get a charge right into the borehole? Just enough to block the damn thing?

    April 30, 2010 at 1:54 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Mac10

    I think it's about time that these big Corporations that has been profiting from our natural resources be held accountable. They've been making money on oil all these years and now they do not have a plan for disasters like this? !!!

    April 30, 2010 at 1:54 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Bridger

    God is a tree hugger.

    April 30, 2010 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
  12. lucas jackson

    Why would the federal government get involved? That would be more SOCIALISM.. Also, I'm sure BP and the states of LA, MS, AL anf FL want to take of this on their own. They don't need federal encroachment. This is a free market and states rights issue. Isn't it?

    April 30, 2010 at 1:58 pm | Report abuse |
  13. south texas oilman

    B.O.P "blow out preventer" one if the most the most strictist company in the world and they seem to have more problems than any one else sounds like they need to restructure there mangement

    April 30, 2010 at 1:58 pm | Report abuse |
  14. MK

    ummm Rhonda, You might wanna look into how gas gets to your local station before you say that. If BP puts a barrell of oil into the system in LA today, they can take a barrell out in New York today. And it probably isn't BP oil, all the manufacturers use the same pipeline. A not well known secret, gas is gas...your station sells whatever comes outta the pipeline regardless who put it in.

    April 30, 2010 at 1:59 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Neil

    No matter what the medium, there is always a chance for human or machine error. This is what can go wrong with offshore drilling. Want to talk about nuclear power? A good argument for windmills and solar power. What is the worst thing that can happen with windmills–that they can fall on someone?

    April 30, 2010 at 2:00 pm | Report abuse |
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