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. soneill

    Please keep us posted of all recent developements. There are hundreds of thousands of people planning to head there for vacations up to including Memorial Day. I'm not trying to be selfish or belittling the problems of the hard working people in the fishing industry,etc. but we are a "gulf loving" group. We've been going to Destin for 35 years. We clean up every piece of beach, bay, or whatever , where ever we go. We know what we have and now what we have at risk. My love of the area led me to be a professional photographer and I've taken many incredible photos of the area over the last 35 years. If you want to see for yourself how beautiful the area is go to my website at artchannelatl.com. Thanks for your coverage and please keep us informed.

    May 5, 2010 at 11:11 am | Report abuse |
  2. Elizabeth

    Hey everybody! It is true. We have some power over all of this nonsense. I'm doing it. My friends are doing it better. CONSERVE ENERGY!!! How about walking to the store instead of driving? Or... RIDE a BIKE!!! CARPOOL!! TAKE A BUS!! I know.. I know... it's a giant spin on one's life.. a big CHANGE. I promise.. it won't hurt. You actually will find your quality of life will improve. Less fat, more muscles, breathe better, AND REDUCE OUR DEPENDENCE ON OIL!! Sell that goofy lumbering SUV that is the butt of jokes among your peers.. OVERCOMPENSATION..MID-LIFE CRISIS, etc, etc, (I'm not sayin' it.. it's just what I hear.) Buy something more practical. If you NEED something to show off your bad-assness, buy a motorcycle. They're fun, get you where you gotta go, and are the perfect size for one or two people. I know, you have to bring your kids around with all their stuff. Hybrid? Wagon? You don't need a 6000lb suv to keep your kids safe and carry groceries. Think about it. REally think about it.

    May 5, 2010 at 11:29 am | Report abuse |
  3. Ky'Anne

    CNN...I love to watch you...but your coverage of this major oil crisis absolutely sucks. Grill baby Grill...or are you bias to the wealthy and embarassing them...like they have feelings...I know you can do a better job at this...

    May 5, 2010 at 11:43 am | Report abuse |
  4. Jim

    40,000 people are killed in car crashes every year in America alone. Reducing the speed limit to 25 miles per hour everywhere would reduce deaths by 95%. So why don't we do it? Because it would be inconvenient, that's why. So where's the outrage? No, we see more outrage over the temporary effects of an oil spill. And what are those effects? The dying of wildlife (which will replenish itself), and a temporary economic impact, which will also repair itself. Instead, the outrage is against a company which employs thousands and contributes greatly to our economy. We are a country of hypocrites, political hacks, and idiots dumbed down effectively by our public education system, and brainwashed daily to want nothing but entertainment, mindlessness, and politically correct emotional comfort.

    May 5, 2010 at 11:48 am | Report abuse |
  5. Johana A. David

    It is the fault of bp. They prefer to get rid of experienced engineers and hire youngsters who are nothing but drug ardic ts. Whether spill or no spill we must drill oil. That's the bottomline. Do you want to be energy dependent on the middle east. Hell know.

    May 5, 2010 at 12:00 pm | Report abuse |
  6. janek

    Everyone is complaining about Gas and Oil but no one is doing anything about it.

    We have a car that gets 32-35 MPG.

    I ride a motorcycle that get 42-50 mpg.

    What do you drive and how much is it’s MPG?

    We are a country of lazy people that are too busy to be bothered so we just deal with it.

    I say What needs to happen is that all of the politicians from the White House down to a representative need to go.

    We need honest people there if there are any left.?

    No lobbying by Big Oil or any other major Big Corp.

    May 5, 2010 at 12:03 pm | Report abuse |
  7. David Gross

    Gulf Coast Laundry Services offers "Special Laundry Services" for agencies working on Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill......GCLS is the largest commercial laundry on the Gulf Coast. We have resouces to process soiled and contaminated garments. Check out our website: http://www.gclaundry.com

    May 5, 2010 at 12:26 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Marla Broom

    It's great to see the booms working but why isn't there someone out there collecting the oil now that it's trapped? What are they doing, just waiting for it to escape and contaminate the marshes?
    Someone needs to get busy.

    May 5, 2010 at 12:28 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Gulfmad

    This should be considered a disaster to our Planet. Why aren't there thousands of military personel and other over there fighting this. And the fact that CNN and other news outlets hardly cover this anymore is an absolute disgrace. The state of Florida will never the same after this!!!

    May 5, 2010 at 12:31 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Patty

    Have we not learned anything? After the Exxon Valdez or the Aug. 2009 Oil spill in the Timor Sea off the coast of Australia?

    We CAN NOT allow the oil companies to regulate themselves. Or just wait by and wait for them to protect us.

    They are in the business of making money.

    Why aren't there containment systems surrounding drilling rigs. We have containment around above ground storage tanks... not only within the pipes, but around the rigs? Why aren't "blowout supression" systems tested routinely?

    We only have ourselves to blame. Email your legislators....

    May 5, 2010 at 12:42 pm | Report abuse |
  11. screaminraven

    There is no safe drilling period. The oil snd gss industry laid the delusion there is a "safe" method to extract natural gas in PA state gamelands and forests only to prove that method contaminated waterways. Western PA American Water Co has issued warnings to customers about contaminents th\roughout the Pittsburgh region, yet we still hear "drill baby drill" from fools...what is the justice from their destruction of Gods creation in the Gulf and lack of conscience concerning the event? Why don't we spend money finishing the technology we started in the 80s with solar, nuclear and wind? I know the answer having been a designer at Westinghouse during that time: the oil and gas industry has our government by the gonads with their campaign contributions.

    May 5, 2010 at 1:28 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Robert H. Merriman

    Please remember that the Deepwater Horizon blew up and sank 41 miles off the US coast in INTERNATIONAL WATERS 5000 feet deep. It was there precisely because US law prohibits drilling closer to shore in our territorial waters. Had this occurred closer to shore where the water would have been much shallower, the leak would already be repaired. We brought this on ourselves.

    If we don't drill, there is nothing to prevent foreign corporations from drilling since it is in international waters. BP, a foreign corporation, is doing an exemplary job of trying to deal with a mess as quickly as they possibly can. Until we find an alternative to oil, we either drill or someone else will drill off our shores and sell us the oil. It is that simple. Can you imagine if China had been operating the Deepwater Horizon? They would have sailed off and left us to deal with the mess. A judgement entered against a Chinese corporation in a US court would be useless and no court in China would even consider entering a judgement against a Chinese corporation. US taxpayers would be footing the entire cleanup and bill.

    May 5, 2010 at 1:29 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Kathryn

    that's just the problem...people aren't seeing beyond politics and money ! It is GREED for oil that is the problem here and total irreverence for the things that are important- like our natural resources and living things. There are alternatives if we are willing to invest but there are still alot of people who would rather burn xcess fuels than try to save what's precious, even if it means sacrificing hundreds of living species.

    May 5, 2010 at 1:47 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Richard

    To Eric P (Post 37), coKids, and Pedro,

    Right On !! You all see the bigger picture from a higher vantage point.
    As an American who has spent years working on all coasts (East, West, and Gulf) with 3 years in Florida, and now working overseas in Asia, it's extremely difficult to admit it, but I'm afraid Eric P is right in his post. My fellow Americans who have never stepped outside the U.S. always seem to have this narrow-minded archaic and outdated view which is based on a U.S. centric view of the world. All those people who constantly say we cannot do without oil have no idea what's happening in other parts of the world, and I'm not only referring to Germany, Sweden, and the Netherlands. Thank goodness for CNN which has CNN International which actually reports on such success stories in Asia and Europe.
    Let me tell you something..Whenever I go back to the U.S. for business, I am always shocked by the "herd mentality", narrow-minded news spouted by the likes of Fox.
    As an American, it's really embarrasing when people in the U.S. automatically assume, without doing some reseach, that alternative energy is a pipedream and we're doomed to use oil. Well, if the U.S. voters who say they favor clean energy all "walked the talk" and started moving their butts instead of just talking by expressing and conveying this to their legislators, it could start a chain reaction of change. I have been spending a great deal of time speaking with U.S. executives who are working for ABB (a major U.S. energy firm) in China, and they tell me that China knows it needs to clean up its act, and become a leader in clean energy. The Chinese government now subsidizes and even funds entrepreneurs
    who invest in clean energy business.
    If China, South Korea, India, Malaysia, Singapore as well as the northern European companies are working hard to make a change, why can't we ?
    Enough excuses and rationalization...It's time for action.

    Last but not least..To Jim,

    I wonder how many people living in the Gulf Coast states whose livelihood depends on a clean and safe Gulf of Mexico would feel if they read your comments.
    I think they would be outraged.

    May 5, 2010 at 2:01 pm | Report abuse |
  15. MG

    On the BBC news website, they report that BP has sealed one of the leaks. Moreover, CNN says: "BP began shipping a massive ......", from where, how long is it going to take to get it there? We need the news to be more accurare and updated (they are called news overall!)

    May 5, 2010 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
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