May 4th, 2010
08:52 PM ET

Latest Updates: Gulf oil spill

Oil booms were installed to help hold back the oil from reaching shore.

[Updated at 9:13 p.m.] The State Department refused Tuesday to provide details of what countries had offered assistance with the oil spill off the Louisiana coast.State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said 12 countries and international organizations had offered assistance but would not provide details.

"One more time. Do we know who the 12 are? We do," Crowley said at his afternoon briefing. "Are we going to announce them publicly? We're not."

- From CNN's Charles Keyes

[Updated at 8:46 p.m.] A federal official in charge of monitoring the environmental impact of the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico said Tuesday his agency is closely monitoring what he described as BP's "unique idea" to break up the spill with dispersant chemicals, deep underwater, reports CNN's Caleb Hellerman.

In addition to traditional methods of using dispersants on the surface, BP, has attempted to inject the chemicals near the source of the leak, where oil has been gushing out of the seabed and into the Gulf since at least April 22, when the Deepwater Horizon sank two days after an explosion and fire.

[Updated at 3:03 p.m.] The edges of the massive Gulf Coast oil slick grazed Louisiana's Chandeleur Islands as authorities took steps to protect waterways closer to New Orleans, the state's governor said Tuesday. Read the full story

The barrier islands are home to a national wildlife refuge, and the state Department of Environmental Quality reported the thin, rainbow-colored sheen at the fringe of the 60-mile-wide spill could be seen lapping ashore Tuesday morning, Gov. Bobby Jindal told reporters. The Coast Guard and BP - which owns the exploded well responsible for the spill - have approved plans to protect waterways and marshlands in the parishes closest to the slick, but those parishes still need supplies like additional floating booms to carry them out, he said.

"Let's make no mistake about what's at stake here. This is our very way of life," Jindal told reporters. "This is our fishing communities, these are some of our coastal communities. We're talking about keeping this oil out of our fragile wetlands."

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, who was the state's lieutenant governor until Monday, said the parishes have developed "excruciatingly detailed" plans that they are asking BP to approve. And Kevin Davis, the president of St. Tammany Parish's government, said local authorities have plans to use multiple lines of floating booms to keep the oil from moving into Lake Borgne and Lake Pontchartrain, which flank New Orleans to the east and north.

A plan is in place to protect Lake Pontchartrain, Davis said, but "That will certainly not be one we want to deploy. We're going to fight it on the outside." And the state is asking the Army Corps of Engineers to open spillways upstream in hopes of using fresh water "to help flush out the oil," Jindal said.

[Updated 1:26 p.m. ET] The Pentagon will pick up the tab for the mobilization of more than 17,000 National Guard troops called up by Gulf Coast states to battle the massive oil spill off Louisiana, a Defense Department spokesman said Tuesday.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates granted requests from Florida, Mississippi and Alabama on Monday night, said Col. Dave Lapan, a Pentagon spokesman. Gates approved a similar request from Louisiana earlier, Lapan said.

[Updated at 1:08 p.m. ET] Democratic senators from two coastal states Tuesday called on President Obama to reverse his call for expanded offshore oil exploration after a massive spill from a damaged well in the Gulf of Mexico.

"I will make it short and to the point: The president's proposal for offshore drilling is dead on arrival," Florida Sen. Bill Nelson told reporters.

Nelson and New Jersey Democrats Robert Menendez and Frank Lautenberg are also backing legislation that would raise the legal cap on damages oil companies must pay for oil spills from $75 million to $10 billion.

soundoff (40 Responses)
  1. capexcitemnt

    what is the national guard doing interfering with industry. they are taking jobs away from those who need them. send the national guard to the border where they can do their job of guarding our nation.

    May 4, 2010 at 2:27 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Jeff

    BP has lowered pipes from a ship to spread dispersant near the plumes of oil from the leak. Why don't they have additional ships/tankers/vessels with piping that can be extended near the leaks to suck up some of the oil as it is leaving the pipe. This wouldn't collect all the oil like the dome technology is designed to do. But at least it will collect some of the oil, and it will collect the oil at the point of greatest concentration. Another estimated 1 million gallons of oil will gush out into the Gulf before the domes are lowered. At least collect some of the oil until that time!!!!!

    CNN, please invite experts and technologists to your progrma to expedite discussions on how to collect as much oil as possible to reduce the magnitude of the damage. You have tremendous power to force these discussions and help solve the problem. Now is the time for the News programs to help design a way forward during this time of national tragedy. Please use your power to ensure that as many designs as possible are being discussed to reduce the damage!!!!!!!!!!

    May 4, 2010 at 2:27 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Jennifer

    What? Why was there a cap on damages oil companies must pay for oil spills? That is outrageous. It's almost an incentive to spill oil! For companies that make billions of dollars a year, $75 million in damages is a drop in the bucket. And for a spill like this one, it would leave the taxpayers stuck with a billion dollar bill. Thank goodness they are going to raise the cap. Now we'll see if they can actually apply it retroactively.

    May 4, 2010 at 2:36 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Randy

    Why do we have to pay for this. Let BP and associates pick up for the total tab.

    May 4, 2010 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
  5. phil

    Right now, this spill is about 25% the size of the Exxon Valdez spill. It will be 50% of the size in about 10days and 100% of the size in a month (assuming that capping doesn't work). Valdez didn't stop very large crude carriers (VLCCs) or
    ultralarge (ULCC), but it did change regulation. These senators apparently either want fuel to jump up in price or two continue sending dollars to countries that want to kill us. "Drill, baby, Drill" is at best a short-term solution, but I'd rather
    take the risk here than continuing to send $$ abroad.

    May 4, 2010 at 2:55 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Gulfmad

    Why isn't Obama and the Feds treating this like the national emergency that it is. This has a chance to heavily impact our entire country and destroy our environment. This thing should be stopped using everyone and ALL MEANS POSSIBLE! I don't get it. 90 days or a dome that "might work" does not cut it. Are people stupid??????

    May 4, 2010 at 2:57 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Gulfmad

    There should be Coast Guard and Navy Ships using their best technology to clean and aid in this. Why leave it up to BP and their botched-up plans to begin with? Yes, they can still pay for this under the government's control. This is ridiculous.

    I live in Florida and our beautiful state is going to be ruined. Say goodbye to tourism, sandy beaches and the awesome wildlife that calls this place home. What a tragedy. It's OK though, the news will give Obama a free pass and applaud his sense of humor at a dinner the other night. What a joke!

    May 4, 2010 at 3:01 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Dominic Bradish

    I think that settling both the damage and the responsibilities will take many years.

    May 4, 2010 at 3:10 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Insanity

    It's always interesting to see that some commenters are upset that Obama mobilizes the National Guard to help with the spill because of the cost and the jobs taken away from locals and others are furious that he has not done even more. As usual the critics offer little real insight or help. BP will pay for all of these costs whoever incurs them. In the interim everything conceivable should be done to stop, contain and clean up this disaster. Calling up the national guard to aid in ongoing efforts is prudent. They can locate booms and equipment, clean up affected beaches and animals and generally be employed to take on the imminent landfall of the slick. It is also interesting to note that everyone is blaming BP and no one is blaming the manufacturer of the blowout preventer. You know the multi million dollar device that was designed to do one thing .... prevent exactly this from happening.

    May 4, 2010 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Gulfmad

    This gusher of oil should have as much urgency by the Govt. as an asteroid that's about to hit Earth. This is ridiculous. There should be thousands of trained people using whatever possible to stop this thing. Every ounce that touches the water is devastating.

    Pointing fingers isn't going to stop this from ruining Earth. Wake up government!!!!

    May 4, 2010 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Joe Anderson

    This disaster is going to cost somebody a 1/2 a billion dollars per day!

    We need to know what other ideas BP is working on incase the inverted funnel does not work.

    With that kind of money at stake they should be testing and designing any option that has a minute chance of working. If another option can stop the leak even one hour earlier it will save twenty million dollars.

    BP needs to list out the things they are working on NOW.

    May 4, 2010 at 3:25 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Matt

    Please everyone join the Facebook group "Dawn Handsoap Saves Wildlife"

    May 4, 2010 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Charles F. Dunn

    It is very important that we are hearing about the war on the oil slick and what
    will be the effect on the coastal states and economy...My question is what
    caused the explosion...I keep wondering whether or not it was an accident or
    was it an act of terriorism.....with a number of workers still missing could one of
    them been a suicide bomber? No one is saying anything about the initial
    cause of the explosion..what better way to cause havoc on the economy of
    the coastal states – which in turn will cause turmoil in the drilling vs not drilling
    and take away the focus of what the terriorists might be doing.... they want us
    to begin fighing amoung ourselves and this takes the focus away from

    May 4, 2010 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Beach Lover

    "...I'd rather take the risk here than continuing to send $$ abroad." – Phil

    Phil – That's easy for you to say when it's not your life and home at risks for epic destruction. Our coast is priceless – so sending SS abroad is far less costly than the destruction of our coastline. Shame on people who think our beaches are a reasonable price to pay!

    May 4, 2010 at 3:59 pm | Report abuse |
  15. G. Kaplan, MD

    Sometimes manking has to experience catastrophes in order to learn the hard way to mend its ways. It is my hope this will finally put an end to offshore drilling. We must urgently concentrate our efforts on alternative energy,
    Our addiction to oil and fossil fuels is devastatin our environemnt with pollution or air, water, soil that is devastating our health, the sustainability of the planet, and our future as a civilization. Why should us all suffer so that the oil and coal companies enrich themselves at the cost of our lives and the future of our children, same as the tobacco industry has done?

    Unless we urgently start using alternative energy sources, our civilization will not have more than 100 years to survive. It is amazing how dynosaurs managed to live 150 million years. We humans, have been around only 5 million years, and at the rate we are destroying the environment at such rate, that all most reputable scientific organizations predict that global warming, due to overpopulation and burning of fossil fuels will be able to survive no more than a 100 years. ( look up Encyclopaedia Britannica, SCIENCE, NATURE, Smithsonian, NOA, NASA, UN, WHO, to mention a few)

    It behooves all to voice our concern and make our goverments do what is right for its people, and walk away from corporations who do not have the interest of mankind at heart.

    Life and good health are at stake here. The environmental destruction has pushed the planet beyond its carrying capasity. Because of this, sustainability is at stake. Because of this, we are already eating tomorrow's seeds. Without them, there will be nothing for future genereations to subsist. At the rate we are going, the destruction of our habitat is irreparable unless we stop this momentum IMMEDIATELY. It is up to US THE PEOPLE to demand this from our elected officials. It is us who must lead them, not the other way around.

    G. Kaplan MD, President

    May 4, 2010 at 4:06 pm | Report abuse |
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