May 11th, 2010
10:58 AM ET

Gulf oil spill: Where things stand, what comes next

As congressional hearings into the massive oil spill growing in the Gulf of Mexico begin this morning, the troubles in the water keep on going.

The undersea oil well, following a drilling rig's April 20 explosion 50 miles off Louisiana's coast, is spewing up to 210,000 gallons of light sweet crude a day into the Gulf, officials say, and so far there's no answer in sight on how to fix it.

So we'll try to break down a couple of things for you and share what we do know.

So where do things stand?

The massive effort to cap the leak failed at the weekend, dashing high hopes that the four-story containment dome would solve the problem. However, before the effort began officials had cautioned that the risky operation had never been tried at such a depth.

To make matters worse a wind shift could push more oil from BP's Deepwaters Deepwater Horizon gusher into the Mississippi Delta and areas west of the river, which is "bad news for Louisiana," Gov. Bobby Jindal said. Louisiana has been mostly spared since the oil rig exploded April 20 and sank two days later about 50 miles off the southeast coast of Louisiana.

As the oil slick spreads, the threat to wildlife, the seafood and tourism industries and people's overall livelihood continues to grow.

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For restaurant owner Bob Pope, the oil slick represents a massive threat. And from someone who has been through Hurricane Katrina, he expects this may end up worse.

"With hurricanes, we know what to expect," Pope says. "They're either gonna be bad or worse, tear you up a little bit and go again. This can go any which way."

Everyone, he says, is waiting to see whether the oil slick ends up being an irritant to the community or "a devastating glob of something that just kills the area."

So what are the options now?

After the dome option failed BP is being forced to on to other options, including the use of a smaller chamber over the leak and shooting garbage into the gaping hole to try to plug the gusher.

The company also is considering placing a valve or a new blowout preventer on top of the existing one, which is not functioning, Suttles told CNN's "American Morning" program. As the name suggests, a blowout preventer is a device that is supposed to clamp shut over a leaking wellhead.

It is hard to get a feeling for how bad things are deep below the ocean surface - BP is keeping its own cap of sorts - on a video of the oil leak.

The only thing we do know is we will hopefully get some answers as to what caused the massive problem and how it can be fixed when executives face tough questioning from Congress, which we'll be carrying live.

Senators are expected to quiz officials about the precautions taken before the blast that set off the underwater gusher and the steps being taken to stop the spill. Experts also are expected to testify on the possible impact of the spill on fishing, tourism and local economies.

soundoff (83 Responses)
  1. Jeff

    BP is trying to cap costs for this cleanup. Their main concern is not doing everything they possibly can to protect the environment and people's lives. Their main concern is trying to minimize damages, while trying to minimize the impact to their profits.

    I don't want the American taxpayers to pay a single cent for this cleanup. But, if the federal government can redirect ships and other resources to use for larger volume oil capture, then they should roll this out now, regardless of whether BP reimburses the government now or later. Minimizing the impact of this spill at all costs should be the administration's number one focus. BP's focus will continue to be to minimize environmental and human impact, while also trying to minimizie the impact to their pocket books. This balancing act is partially why the response has been so inadequate.

    The Obama administration needs to step up efforts to contain this spill offshore as much as possible. For his administration to push BP for doing more and expect that's enough is naieve.

    May 11, 2010 at 12:47 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Less Greed

    Check out what a paid BP shill Mikey is, lol.

    May 11, 2010 at 12:49 pm | Report abuse |
  3. mikey

    I wish I was a paid shill. .................. Am I lying? No... You're just blind.

    May 11, 2010 at 12:50 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Doug

    We aregoing to have congressional hearings to solve the problem so whats the big deal HA HA HA. WE will see some congressman ,bluster and blow for a few days on TV, then they will go home to their grand homes knowing that there will be truck loads of cash waiting fo them somewhere for their retirement, but i will bet they want retire in the Gulf

    May 11, 2010 at 12:52 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Barbara

    I also wondered if dynamite could be used to blow up the leak, which may then cause the surface of the ocean to collapse into the leak and stop it. Is BP more interested in retrieving the oil than saving our precious Gulf coast? My son is suppose to get married on Orange Beach in June. For the past 15 years, my family vacations have been to the Gulf. Saving the Gulf is more important than saving the oil. Drilling at this depth should not have been allowed in the first place, as obviously the technology we have today is not advanced enough to handle it.

    May 11, 2010 at 1:00 pm | Report abuse |
  6. smc, central PA

    Same story, different day. Oil spill execs go to Congress and play the blame game, but will go home to their fancy homes and millions. Last week that rouge sheriff in AZ busted some business and paraded around 35 illegal immigrant workers he "caught". Why aren't these oil execs leaving in handcuffs??? Why aren't the people hiring illegal immigrants the ones being paraded around in handcuffs??? Start making these corporate criminals pay the price. End corporate personhood and bring the real people who are destroying our country to justice.

    May 11, 2010 at 1:04 pm | Report abuse |
  7. mikey

    Are you censoring me CNN? Wow. You ARE really hypocrites aren't you? TaTa CNN! You guys are going down the tubes anyway. LOL!!!!!

    May 11, 2010 at 1:05 pm | Report abuse |
  8. mikey

    Bye all. Thx for listening

    May 11, 2010 at 1:06 pm | Report abuse |
  9. mikey

    just for the record. They didn't publish 3 comments I submitted. Don't know why. See ya.

    May 11, 2010 at 1:07 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Less Greed

    It's because they traced your IP address to BP network like I did....cya BP disinformation agent!

    May 11, 2010 at 1:11 pm | Report abuse |
  11. KIm

    Doesn't it make sense for the oil companies to have at the ready, fixes to every possible scenario to any malfunction of a well, just as NASA does when people are sent in to space, when power companies operate nuclear plants? They have handled bad situtations MUCH better than BP has!

    It is evident that not whole lot of worth is being given to Mother Earth. WE ARE HER CUSTODIANS. Look what we are doing to her and all the living things on it! Let's come up with a better idea. We can put a man on the moon, why can't someone figure out how to make clean energy??!!! We're NOT that stupid! It all comes down to the mighty dollar, doesn't it?

    I'm glad I can live without seafood, but unfortunately those shrimpers and fisherman can't. I sure wouldn't eat anything that comes out of the Gulf now.

    SHAME on you, BP! Get your thumb out of where the sun don't shine and do something about the mess you've made!

    May 11, 2010 at 1:11 pm | Report abuse |
  12. mikey

    "It's because they traced your IP address to BP network like I did....cya BP disinformation agent!"-less greed

    Good job Secret Squirrel. Thanks for showing me you know I'm right. See ya.

    May 11, 2010 at 1:16 pm | Report abuse |
  13. mikey

    And I don't have to have the last word. ;O)

    May 11, 2010 at 1:16 pm | Report abuse |
  14. mikey

    CNN boards are like the old time shootin' gallery. Only this one is all little duckies. So easy to pick off...Many, many intellectual lightweights here.

    May 11, 2010 at 1:20 pm | Report abuse |
  15. hope4peace420

    the only way to fix these problems is to stop drilling!!!!!!!!!! I know it might be a lot to ask but solar is the only knowledgeable solution I can think of to many of our problems. For those who don't know global warming, climate change, bad weather, etc. are all causes from human usage of burning oil and chemicals.
    THE GOVERNMENTS, OIL COMPANIES, and all of you who run the world need to get off of your high horses and use your/our money for good and finally help the globe and its inhabitants. It's disgusting how everything seems to be about money and not about life and helping one another. AND OBAMA i'm disappointed in you for many reasons BUT I CANT BELIEVE YOUR GOING TO ALLOW DRILLING ON THE EASTERN CONTINENTAL SHELF. IDIOT!!!!!!

    May 11, 2010 at 1:23 pm | Report abuse |
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