May 8th, 2010
10:31 PM ET

Latest Updates: Gulf oil spill

[Updated 10:29 p.m.] The effort to place a massive containment dome over a gushing underwater wellhead in the Gulf of Mexico was dealt a setback when a large volume of hydrates - ice-like crystals formed when gas combines with water - accumulated inside the vessel, a BP official said
Saturday. 

The dome was moved off to the side of the wellhead and is resting on the
seabed while crews work to overcome the challenge, a process expected to take at least two days, BP's chief operation officer Doug Suttles said.

Read the full story on CNN.com

[Updated 10:02 p.m.] A llama in north Texas is doing her part to help relief efforts by giving up the hair off her back, CNN affiliate WDSU reports.

Candycane's owner, Steve Berry, is donating her hair so it can be made into absorbent pads, or booms, to soak up oil in the Gulf of Mexico.

"Llamas don't have any oil in their hair," Berry, a retired Arlington firefighter and Hood County commissioner, told WDSU. "So not being oily it's a perfect absorbent."

Berry, a member of the South Central Llama Association, put out a call to other llama owners in the region, offering to give haircuts if need be, according to WDSU.

Each llama yields about four to five lbs. of wool, said Berry, who will ship it all the New Orleans, Louisiana.

Watch the full story on WDSU

[Updated 9:24 p.m.] Tar balls ranging in size from dimes to golf balls were found Saturday on the beach on Dauphin Island, Alabama, the Deepwater Horizon Incident Joint Information Center said.

Analysis of the tar balls to determine the origin of the oil may take up to 48 hours, the center said in a press release. Tar balls are occasionally found on the shores of the Gulf of Mexico, residents told CNN. The tar balls were collected in a pom-pom shaped material known as snare boom that were placed around Dauphin Island.

Reports of tarballs can be made to the U.S. Coast Guard at any time at 1-800-448-5816.

[Updated 7:09 p.m.] By the numbers, to date, according to the Deepwater Horizon Incident Joint Information Center:

– 10,000: Number of deployed personnel currently responding to protect shoreline and wildlife.

– 270: Vessels responding on site, including skimmers, tugs, barges, and recovery vessels, to assist in containment and cleanup efforts, in addition to the dozens of aircraft, remotely operated vehicles, and multiple mobile offshore drilling units.

– 923,000: Approximate amount of boom in feet that have been deployed to contain the spill.

– 2.1 million: Gallons of an oil-water mix that have been recovered.

– 290,000: Gallons of dispersant have been deployed.

– 10: Staging areas set up to protect shoreline in Gulf Coast states that could be affected. The staging areas are in Biloxi, Mississippi; Panama City, Florida; Pensacola, Florida; Pascagoula, Mississippi; Dauphin Island, Alabama; Port Sulphur, Louisiana; Shell Beach, Louisiana; Slidell, Louisiana; Port Fourchon, Louisiana and Venice, Louisiana.

[Updated 5:38 p.m.] It was payday Saturday for some fishermen in Louisiana, but the check wasn't for what they pulled out of the water - it was for what they put into the water.

Parish officials handed out paychecks Saturday morning to fishermen who worked from May 1st to­ 4th laying boom in the contaminated waters where they usually go fishing and shrimping. They were the first locals hired by BP, the company that owns the well at the heart of the oil spill, to help clean up the Gulf. With so many in the fishing industry affected by the oil spill, St. Bernard's Parish has set up a rotation system for those looking for work. The lucky ones will find their name on the work schedule again before the end of the month.

The amount of the check depended on one's position - a captain was paid more than a deck hand. An additional check was cut for those who used their boats. Fisherman Rafe Regan said he earned $460 a day working as a captain. He also said he received $500 a day for using his boat. That may sound like good money for a day's work but Regan says during oyster season he can earn as much as $3600 a day.

Fisherman Bobby Lovell said he earned just enough money to cover the cost of pulling his crab traps out of the water. The traps are in an area that is now off limits to fishing. Lovell is so worried about supporting his family that he plans to show up at the marina every day in case an extra person is needed. Lovell thinks he may have some luck getting a spot on a boat tomorrow. He says his wife may not be too pleased because it's Mother's Day, but according to Lovell that is why he wants to go - someone is bound to stay home, he believes.

soundoff (61 Responses)
  1. Kenneth Howald

    Here is a link to the MSDS sheet on Corexit 9500 which is the dispersant the BP is using http://www.deepwaterhorizonresponse.com/posted/2931/COREXIT_9500_UsCuEg.539287.pdf
    Copy and paste it to your address bar to read the hazards involved with the use of this product. BP has purchased one third of the world's stock of this product to use in the Gulf. The most telling line is the caution not to use it "on surface water" as this will allow it get into the marine environment...this is toxic to marine. Let's step out of the pan and into the fire maybe it won't be as warm...

    May 10, 2010 at 2:29 am | Report abuse |
  2. Michael Gruters

    hello world

    dome is not necessary and wasting time – oil floats to surface and can be pumped into tankers/barges –

    employ a floatation of existing tankers/barges starting at epicenter of shaft leak to recover (pump skim off surface oil)

    possible "stop leak" would be explosion deep in old shaft using a missile

    thank you

    Michael Gruters – former faculty physics Princeton late 60'

    p.s. the use of dispersing chemicals make surface removal impossible and poisons the sea – really stupid....

    it is not proposed to use "hair" skimmers, but hoses that submerge and as water/oil mix is pumped into tanker/barge it is replaced by same.
    there are many tankers/barges currently in service to other gulf rigs.
    as the tanker hold fills separated water from the bottom is pumped back.
    there are single super-tankers that can hold the total spill.
    many tankers can be used and return to refineries

    p.p.s this story not being covered anymore on CNN or NY Times – maybe when oil hits the Hamptons

    May 10, 2010 at 9:30 am | Report abuse |
  3. Eddie Cloud

    I have one big question. That is has the fact that when the Hurricane season starts and if this oil mess is still there how will this mess then be contained. Just wondering seems that I have not heard any questions about this.

    May 10, 2010 at 9:39 am | Report abuse |
  4. LDopa

    Eddie, that's a good question. I suspect a hurricane would be both helpful and harmful, as it relates to the oil spill. The extreme wind and waves could help break up the oil so it can be naturally degraded (this is what chemical dispersants do). On the other hand, it will also wash a lot of the oil onto shore. I'm afraid there's nothing we can do about that, but try to stop the leaks asap.

    May 10, 2010 at 1:10 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Eddie Eagle

    Here's a suggestion on how to try and cap the oil leak. How about using quick setting concrete or an ecologically clean substance poured into the gaps where the oil is flowing to try and plug them up. Concrete has the mass and could possibly form fit as it sets when poured in. Also concrete seems eco friendly as it's basically sand and water mix.
    Eddie Eagle
    Washington state

    May 10, 2010 at 3:09 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Cheryl

    GET THE OIL OUT OF OUR WATER...oh.... excuse me... it must all belong to BP. Because they are the only ones allowed to clean it up. Pardon me. But, letting millions of gallons of oil drift onto every beach along the coast is not CLEANING IT UP. Do they own the shoreline of the entire gulf coast also.... Do they own all the birds,fish and other wildlife? They decide life and death for the gulf? The President should be saying- get the oil out of the water within one week or ELSE!! The government takes control of BP, gets all their assets, and takes command of this mess. Put every university, every engineering firm, every state and federal employee, every fisherman to work at getting the OIL OUT OF THE WATER.
    Thank you

    May 10, 2010 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Jeff Toycen

    We are in the process of building a system that can filter tens of millions of gallons of seawater daily and separate the crude oil from the water. This system will work on the beaches , on the surface , and in the deep sea, It is a far superior approach to dispersing it, effectively burying it in the sea,

    This is the only approach that is a win win (vs. Loose-Loose) because the recovered crude can be sold and solves the contamination issues that will plague us for years to come,
    This is best accomplished while the oil is in concentrated areas

    The present out of sight out of mind approach will have disastrous consequences.

    We will have the first system ready in about 7 days, and we are having trouble getting an audience.

    Jeff Toycen
    President
    REGEN Resource Engineering Group Inc.

    May 10, 2010 at 4:22 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Rick

    3,600 bucks a day during oyster season..wow! stop your crying fisherman. and if you cant live off that find another career. when you play.. you pay.

    May 10, 2010 at 5:20 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Kangarobin

    RE:May 9th, 2010 7:22 pm ET post by Ron Beddome
    ====================
    Ron, I had a similar idea about freezing – by lowering a piping array and pumping refrigerant through it to essentially freeze the sea water surrounding the leak – in effect forming a solid mass to prevent the liquid oil from escaping into the surrounding liquid ocean. If such a freeze plug could be created, then the secondary leak would experience a higher head (pressure) and would discharge at a higher rate, so the secondary would need a similar freeze plug. All temporary for sure, unili other measures such as the relief well drilling gets there.

    Seems like a good problem for the experts on gas laws, liquid states, and pressure at depth (PV = nRT, asI learned in my physics classes). We joke about freezing lakes to prevent floods from overtopping dams in my profession... but hey, any and all ideas are worth a shot, right? In fact, earthworks are often frozen in difficult situations to allow tunneling through certain soils.

    May 10, 2010 at 5:26 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Rick

    What happens if BP claims bankruptcy in the coming days?

    May 10, 2010 at 6:53 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Jeff

    The fact that BP does not have their backup dome, which they call a 'top hat,' once again shows that they are short-sighted and not adequately handling this crisis. They or a contractor should have built that second dome in parallel and had it ready to be deployed soon after the first dome failed. Instead, another 1 million gallons will leak out into the Gulf before they attempt their second design at subsurface oil capture.

    I understand the subsurface oil capture is technologically complex due to the pressure and temperature at the seabed. However, that is precisely why BP should have designed and built several possible subsurface oil capture devices at the same time. If one didn't work, they could try the next one. If the second one didn't work, they could try a third one. All within 24 to 48 hours of each other. The fact that the first dome didn't work is not what concerns me in their subsurface oil capture response. What concerns me is the fact that they didn't design and build multiple technologies over the last couple of weeks. This is not necessarily a scientific and technological failure. They learned a lot about crystal formation at that depth. Perhaps they should have known about that earlier. But, they learned something. OK, move on to the next option. But, now it sounds like they're building the 'top hat' from scratch so that it will be ready to be deployed by Thursday. There will be another 1 million gallons of oil leaked into the Gulf by Thursday. If that fails, and they don't have a third option ready to be deployed. If they end up looking at the list of options and say, "Hmmm, which one should we try next," just like they're doing now, then they surely have shown their gross incompetence in this situation.

    Another failure has been and continues to be failure to adequately respond is on the surface. If you look at any video on any national news website, you will see large areas of oil-covered sea, and relatively few boats for skimming operations. Beyond a visual inspection of oil on the surface that is not being captured, the simple math shows that the surface response is not adequate. The joint command's website indicates 270 vessels are employed for the operation. For a 100 mile long oil slick, that's 2.7 boats per mile. When you take into account that the slick is several dozen miles wide, 270 boats is clearly not enough.

    Also for the offshore surface response, they are not employing the right vessels. I agree with Michael Gruters comments (#32). Oil tankers should be used giant oil/water separators. The Exxon Valdez oil tanker dumped 10.8 million gallons of oil in that infamous oil spill. I believe some tankers can hold much more than that. The joint command website for the Deepwater Oil response summarizes how much they've collected: "Oily water recovered: approximately 3.6 million gallons." (I believe that this is the total number of gallons recovered since the crisis began, no 3.6 million gallons collected today.) This is grossly insufficent. And part of the reason it is insufficient is they are using equipment and vessels that are insufficient for the scale of this operation.

    How many of the 270 boats are fishing boats laying boom, which ends up washed up on shore in light to moderate surf? How many of the 270 boats are smaller vessels are small to medium sized skimming boats? In my view, they should have many, many dozens of oil tankers performing high volume surface skimming operations. Whether they have large skimming arms attached to the tankers, or whether they have nearby vessels with appropriate skimming devices, that's a detail that could be decided by somebody more knowledgeable. But the general concept is that you are pumping millions upon millions of gallons of oil/water mixture into tankers. The oil rises to the top, and water remains on the bottom. Water is pumped out of the bottom of the oil water mixture as more oil/water mixture is being skimmed up from the surface. The method allows for the separation of two important processes. First, collecting a lot of oil/water mixture from the surface is one distinct operation. With only one operation, the focus can be on maximizing the rate of collection. The second operation is separation. This is performed in the oil tanker. By separating the operations, much more oil/water mixture on the surface can be processed.

    Why aren't there many dozens of tankers being employed in this spill as oil/water separators? I don't know. But given the obvious nature of this option, my hunch is it comes down to cost. Dispersants are probably much cheaper than using some 50, 100, or 150 oil tankers for cleanup operations, when they could be moving more valuable crude oil. So, my guess is that BP is considering the cost of all options and trying to do the cleanup in a way that minimizes the impact to their total costs and thus total profits.

    This is certainly a tragedy on many levels. But, it seems to highlight a much greater tragedy, which is how we have allowed money to be more important that the environment and humanity. Stephen Hawkings once commented that for the human race to survive, he hopes humans can inhabit another planet before they destroy themselves on earth. It's a tragic statement to consider. But in the light of this crisis, one really has to wonder.

    May 10, 2010 at 7:02 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Teresa

    B.P should be treated as a criminal because what has happen on the Gulf is a crime against
    mother EARTH .......... NOT only has it poison a massive eco system were we get most of our
    Sea Food from its killing lots of Innocent Wild life ......... I don't care if they have a spending cap they should go Bankrupt trying to fix the lives they've destroyed and the wide Ocean they just keep POLLUTING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    May 11, 2010 at 4:52 am | Report abuse |
  13. Tom J

    here's the oil mess fix....it they'll just do it!!??!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k5SxX2EntEo

    May 11, 2010 at 7:01 am | Report abuse |
  14. carl

    I'm not sure where to send suggestions on the oil leak. I don't know if it reasonable but wonder if a sleeve with liquid nitrogen to cool the oil as it moves through the pipe would help slow the leak. Adding a coolant to their injected trash method might also help in clogging the leak

    May 11, 2010 at 8:25 am | Report abuse |
  15. oil leak recomendations

    Urgent Goverment(Obama) intervention now

    hello world

    dome is not necessary and wasting time – oil floats to surface and can be pumped into tankers/barges –

    employ a floatation of existing tankers/barges starting at epicenter of shaft leak to recover (pump skim off surface oil)

    possible "stop leak" would be explosion deep in old shaft

    thank you

    Michael Gruters – former faculty physics Princeton late 60'

    p.s. the use of dispersing chemicals make surface removal impossible and poisons the sea – really stupid....

    it is not proposed to use "hair" skimmers, but hoses that submerge and as water/oil mix is pumped into tanker/barge it is replaced by same.
    there are many tankers/barges currently in service to other gulf rigs.
    as the tanker hold fills separated water from the bottom is pumped back.
    there are single super-tankers that can hold the total spill.
    many tankers can be used and return to refineries

    p.p.s this story not being covered anymore on CNN or NY Times – maybe when oil hits the Hamptons

    May 11, 2010 at 8:37 am | Report abuse |
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