May 5th, 2010
06:01 PM ET

Latest Updates: Gulf oil spill

[Updated at 5:53 p.m.]  Authorities battled the Gulf of Mexico's massive oil spill with sweat, steel and fire Wednesday as patches of oil crept to within two miles of the Louisiana bayous.

Two specially equipped "burn rigs" set fire to patches of crude oil near the ruptured undersea well at the heart of the spill, a BP executive said Wednesday afternoon.

At the same time, a four-story containment vessel was loaded aboard a barge in Port Fourchon, Louisiana, en route to the well, the first step in an attempt to capture the leaking oil at an unprecedented depth.

And thousands of volunteers, wildlife officials, idled fishermen and National Guard troops mobilized to string floating booms along the beaches and across the mouths of estuaries leading toward the Gulf.

The outer sheen of oil was reported to be "very close" to the Chandeleur Islands and the Mississippi River delta in southeastern Louisiana, Coast Guard Rear Adm. Mary Landry told reporters. And an oyster fisherman spotted a large patch of oil sheen near the border between St. Bernard and Plaquemines parishes, about 40 miles southeast of New Orleans, Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser said.

Landry said the heavier concentrations of crude remained further offshore, and the latest predictions from the federal government said the weather would keep it largely stationary for the next three days.

The 72-hour forecast shows winds shifting to the south and blowing about  10 to 15 knots (12-17 mph), which is likely to produce only "a little bit of  movement on the fringes," said Charlie Henry of the National Oceanographic and  Atmospheric Administration.

"Nothing's changing real fast this week," Henry said.

[Updated at 1:06 p.m.] Authorities battling the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico plan to try to burn off another patch of the growing slick Wednesday afternoon, the U.S. Coast Guard announced.

The move comes a week after the last attempt to use a controlled fire to destroy some of the oil pouring from a damaged underwater well. That attempt destroyed about 100 barrels of oil, but well owner BP said at the time that it planned larger burns when weather permitted.

The well is gushing an estimated 5,000 barrels (210,000 gallons) per day. Efforts to cut off the well have failed, and BP planned to ship a massive steel box out to the site on Wednesday that it hoped could be used to contain most of the leak.

[Updated at 10:00 a.m.] Federal and state officials in Florida said Wednesday they are stepping up preparations for fallout from the massive oil spill now threatening to spread throughout the Gulf of Mexico.

The U.S. Coast Guard is in the process of setting up an incident command post in St. Petersburg, Coast Guard Captain Tim Close told reporters. Coast Guard officials are being joined in their preparations by, among others, representatives of BP - the company responsible for the spill - and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.

They are following a regional contingency plan that has "been in place for years," Close said. The strategy identifies the most environmentally sensitive areas of Florida's Gulf coast and the most effective oil spill cleanup strategies.

"As of right now, there is no prediction of any landfall impact (of) oil on the west coast of Florida within the next 72 hours, and that's as far out as the projections actually go," Close said.Close noted that the "best scientific information right now is that, if there is impact, it is not going to be in the form of one giant oil slick. It's going to be in the form of residual from the spill - tar balls (and) what's referred to as 'patties,' kind of a darker, thicker ... stickier mess. But not one great sheen."

The spill could ultimately land "anywhere on the west coast of Florida or it could be nowhere on the west coast of Florida," he said.

[Updated at 9:15 a.m.] Workers with BP plan to start moving a four-story metal container Wednesday toward a massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico that could get even worse.

The company has a risky plan to lower the container 5,000 feet into the water off the coast of Louisiana and position it above a ruptured oil pipe. If successful, the container would sit there like an upside-down funnel, sucking up oil that would otherwise add to the growing slick in the Gulf.

BP plans to start moving the container toward the coast around noon Wednesday, said Doug Suttles, the company's chief operating officer. It will
take a couple of hours to get to the coast and then a few more days to actually get the container in place, he said.

[Posted at 8:39 a.m.] Crews working to stem the tide of oil in the Gulf of Mexico capped one of the three leaking points Wednesday, a BP executive said.

John Curry, the director of external affairs for BP, said the leak that was capped was the smallest of the three leaks. Curry says the pipe was cut off and sealed with a slip valve.

soundoff (89 Responses)
  1. Jack Rabbit

    If you would like to convert this article into Hannity or Limbaugh language the link below is for you.

    May 5, 2010 at 10:17 am | Report abuse |
  2. Victimium

    Unfortunatelly, when BP and U.S Government coud stop the oil spilled It's going to be to late for our environment and economy.

    May 5, 2010 at 10:22 am | Report abuse |
  3. pedro

    "There is no such thing as safe offshore drilling"

    True – there's no such thing as a safe walk down the street either. But where we really dropped the ball was in allowing these rigs to get built without the standard set of emergency shutoff valves EVERY OTHER COUNTRY IN THE WORLD REQUIRES.

    This (of course) due to the hubris of the early W years Republicans. Thanks again, guys, as if Katrina wasn't enough.

    Republicans – "would this guy/Palin make a good drinking buddy" is not a standard for electability. You actually do want smart people running things or this is what you get.

    May 5, 2010 at 10:23 am | Report abuse |
  4. Red5342

    This is ALL Bush?Cheny's fault. They let the oil companied write the regulations. In every other country there is an emergency piece of equipment that costs $500,000. The oil companies wrote it out and the 2 morpns in office gave it the ok!! Look it up. All true!!!

    May 5, 2010 at 10:23 am | Report abuse |
  5. Industry

    If you don't want oil to be drilled, stop driving your cars and wanting all your luxuries.

    May 5, 2010 at 10:28 am | Report abuse |
  6. James Gray

    Norway, a Scandinavian contry, has a rather large oil industry, these are a comments from their environment minister Erik Solheim...

    "The oil well blowout in the Gulf of Mexico showed that freak accidents can happen anywhere with current technologies, no matter how tight the safety plans."

    "This was not a backyard company in an obscure African dictatorship ... (It was) one of the most well-reputed world companies with a very modern rig in one of the most advanced industrial societies on the entire globe,",

    "After this no one can seriously claim that this could not happen in Norway or anywhere else."

    May 5, 2010 at 10:29 am | Report abuse |
  7. Eric P

    For the record, the people who are making these ridiculous claims that we are dependent upon "muslim" countries for our oil isn't accurate. The majority of our imported oil comes from Canada and Mexico. That's a fact. Here's the bottom line, any strategy that has the United States drilling for oil offshore for an extended period of time is NOT a solution. It will have no significant impact on gas prices and, as evidenced by the oil leak in the gulf, its dangerous.

    Oil isn't going away, and we aren't going to run will just cost $1000 per barrel. Americans are really very stupid people. You can see people commuting to work in vehicles the size of 2 cars put together. Why? Probably 95% of the energy used during the commute is wasted on moving that hulking SUV or truck and not it's occupant. The internal combustion engine is 100 year old technology. It will never be efficient or smart, and America's thirst for oil contributes to disasters like this. Sorry, but it is what it is. Until Americans pull their heads out (of you know what) and start doing more than talking about how much they care about this country, nothing will change.

    May 5, 2010 at 10:30 am | Report abuse |
  8. cokids

    Drill, Baby, Drill has been totally debunked! Time to let people who support this bunk know how outraged you are! Try this one on for size, Did you know that Sarah Palin is scheduled to be on the Discovery Channel talking about Alaska? Totally inappropriate? YOU decide. Ways to complain are at the site of the link. Give it a try!

    May 5, 2010 at 10:38 am | Report abuse |
  9. janek

    I have one question.

    Why did it take so long for anyone to do anything?

    The day of the fire and the platform sinking there should have been immediate response.

    And the Obama administration where were they in all of this.

    Oh yes They react like FEMA. After the fact.

    How sad.

    We will all be paying for this with increase in Gas prices.

    May 5, 2010 at 10:41 am | Report abuse |
  10. pedro

    "Pretty sure that Obama was all for drilling. So why are we just bashing McCain and Palin?"

    There's drilling like a yahoo and there's drilling responsibly – this was an early Bush years decision to waive the requirement that all oil rigs get built with main shutoff valves – a requirement every other nation on earth has in place, mind you.

    Stop trying to say that being outraged by this completely incompetent decision is a vote against drilling. It's like saying being against drunk driving is a jab at the car industry.

    May 5, 2010 at 10:46 am | Report abuse |
  11. pedro

    Link is White House timeline of response to the oil rig disaster. There goes the whole "slow response" argument.

    May 5, 2010 at 10:49 am | Report abuse |
  12. janek

    In response to Richard.
    "The U.S. is one of the wealthiest countries in the world"

    Well maybe in the 1960's.. not any more..

    Ever since the Clinton Administration who started with the Loans from China.
    Pretty soon we it will be the “United States of China”.

    We are so far in debt that our Great Grand children will be paying it off.

    All for co sourcing and jobs being sent overseas, the US helping every country that asks for it. Looks like we take care of ever county 1st then the US. and when there is a crisis no one helps the US.

    May 5, 2010 at 11:00 am | Report abuse |
  13. janek

    In response to Pedro

    This is a White House link from the Obama Administration trying to cover their behind.
    It is a cover up on their part. To make it look like “see we were busy addressing it.”

    If they were so busy as the we site says then why is oil washing up on shore.??

    What I know is what I see happening every day.

    They should have started building those 4 story towers as well as move another platform to start drilling a relief well the next day. Not a week later.

    May 5, 2010 at 11:07 am | Report abuse |
  14. George W. Bush

    May as well drill baby drill now with no safeguards. The damage has been done. It's hillarious though that God chose oil to retaliate aganist the Red States.

    May 5, 2010 at 11:10 am | Report abuse |
  15. King Coal

    The Oil Industry has more deaths per year than the coal industry. Check your facts.

    May 5, 2010 at 11:11 am | Report abuse |
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