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. Carrie

    Ok people, while you are having so much fun with this, I live in Southern Mobile County in Alabama. This is going to effect my community in the worst possible ways environmentally and economically. Sure we can get shrimp from overseas but what about the people who live in my community that are just getting over the aftermath of Katrina?? This is very devestating!!!

    April 30, 2010 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
  2. NN

    Where are the GOP/Tea Party Drill Supporters now? Where's Sarah Palin?./..

    .Oh wait it's socialism to blame for the spill..

    April 30, 2010 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Rocky

    Why is the first thing everyone thinks about at a time like this is who to blame for the problem. Lets concern ourselves with how to stop it and clean it up first. there will be plenty of time to place blame after the work is done.

    But I know it was Bush's fault. Actually this happened under Obamas control so it must be his fault like 9/11 was bush's fault.

    April 30, 2010 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
  4. America first

    This is a disaster. Unfortunately, many will try to gain advantage from it, its just the latest in our disfunctional mode of operation. Why can't we take a look, with clear heads, and accept the fact that its time to start getting off the oil. We say that oil is cheap energy, look at the hidden costs not accounted for at the pump! Global warming (maybe), acid rain (for sure), health problems (no doubt), environmental destruction, etc. All not included in the cost of a tank of gas. Foreign oil will always be less expensive than any new oil we drill for so as long as we are on oil, we can expect to send $500,000,000,000 to the arabs annually. Not a good long term solution for our balance of exports to imports. I think we have to take a long hard look at what T Boone is proposing, Natural gas and wind could take us a long way but we are too disfunctional politically right now to do anything. My fear is that we will just keep bumbling along the same old energy path with blinders on.

    April 30, 2010 at 2:15 pm | Report abuse |
  5. cory

    So whats the bigger picture??? not that people really pay attention but a major spill like this usually initiates a big loss. Think of the unemployment now along with vacation spots and at the same time, all the beach fronts contaminated so now the housing market goes down in value all along the coast. Brilliant plan to devalue the dollar, and effectively initiate another issue to go to war in the backdrop to pay for all the damage. I dont know how oil rigs out in the middle of the ocean just blow up and sink??? but why is this a key location and why of all the rigs in the world, does it have to again affect the gulf coastline of america?????Some people have to think here and see alittle more into this. All these people on the coast are not going to get their property values back. All this crap is happening way to fast its hard to comprehend that in just 2 years we've put ourselves in shackles for the elite and we soon cant even work to feed our families cuz we dont have our "nazi " stamp to say we can work....what a crock of $@*%!!!!!!!time to get the good o'le dual citizenship goin. Might want to concider doin it.

    April 30, 2010 at 2:16 pm | Report abuse |
  6. SteveWy

    while your at it why dont you send accountants to figure out what a financial loss this is for BP. Come on head nigga in charge, Do something!!!!!!!!

    April 30, 2010 at 2:16 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Joe

    Obama acted on this about as fast as Bush did on 911. I wonder why?

    April 30, 2010 at 2:16 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Hawk Texas

    Jack, did anyone ever tell you that you are a fool.

    April 30, 2010 at 2:16 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Flying 747 Heavy

    Wasn't BP the same company that had oil spill issues up in Alaska in 2006 and a major refinery explosion in Huston in 2005?

    The Prudhoe Bay oil spill of 2006 caused all kinds of havok leaking over 212,000 gallons, making it the largest oil spill in Alaska's north slope. The cause of the failure was determined to be the result of poor maintenance and lack of proper pipeline inspections. In October 2007, BP Exploration pleaded guilty to neglient discharge of oil and was fined $20 million dollars.

    Numerous failings in equipment, risk management, staff management, working culture at the site, maintenance and inspection and general health and safety assessments were listed as the cause of the refinery explosion in Huston. On October 30, 2009 the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) imposed an $87 million fine on the company for failing to correct safety hazards revealed in the 2005 explosion. The fine was the largest in OSHA's history. So far, BP has said it has paid more than US$1.6 billion to compensate victims.

    Perhaps BP need some serious government inspections/oversite of all it's US oil operations. Same company, same attitude towards safety, same problems. Time to change their culture.

    April 30, 2010 at 2:19 pm | Report abuse |
  10. brian

    Yep that is exactly what we all need down here on the Gulf Coast...more frakking lawyers!

    What pray-tell are these goobers going to do? Are they going to help clean up? do they know anything about oil field operatiosn? Can they make the oil stop flowing? Well I guess they could get an injunciton or a cease and dissist order but I think the well head would be found in contempt and would have to spend time in jail.

    Wait to see what happens before you get lawyers involved. This is a big wate of time and money by the justice department. Stay home until you are needed. Please stop wasting my tax money.

    April 30, 2010 at 2:19 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Keith

    Why not drop a parachute-like tarp over the leak, attach a hose-like contraption to the top/middle of the tarp, and at the very least, control where the oil is going, at least most of the oil? Instead of taking 4 weeks to come up with some other process that is sure not to work, keeping it simple seems to make the most sense. I'm sure it's been discussed, but the quickest option is to blow it up and cap the well....but that would just make sense and we don't need Big Oil to lose any more money!!!! But I'm just sayin'.....

    April 30, 2010 at 2:20 pm | Report abuse |
  12. I Know

    You all may need to know that Transocean did not make the BOP’s! “Cameron” did. 18 ¾” 15,000 psi. TL Blowout Preventer.

    April 30, 2010 at 2:21 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Casual Observer

    Well Jack49 , until you learn how to spell imbecile, you should just not comment at all...this is the problem with the Glenn Beck crowd, large mouths coupled to small IQs...and even smaller peni

    April 30, 2010 at 2:22 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Sarah Palin has a penis

    We should commission Cristoff to enshroud the gulf in a spectacular sheeting of aqua tones

    April 30, 2010 at 2:26 pm | Report abuse |
  15. George Jr Smith

    At the time of construction, why don't oil companies build a turn-off valve into the oil pipe between the ocean floor and surface platform as these structures are built?

    April 30, 2010 at 2:26 pm | Report abuse |
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