May 25th, 2010
11:20 AM ET

Day 36: What's happening with the Gulf Oil spill

George Barishich, a local shrimper, expresses his concerns about the oil spill at an open meeting with a BP representative.

BP has tried several methods to stop or contain the oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico, but 36 days after it began, all attempts by the company to cap the spill have failed.

So, what's happening today?

The company discussed  its latest attempt to contain the oil, a maneuver called a "top kill" that it plans to implement Wednesday.

Oil rig owner Transocean plans to hold a memorial service today to honor 11 workers who have been missing since the rig exploded.

What can we expect to happen next?

BP briefered on the "top kill," which including pumping thick, viscous fluid twice the density of water into the site of the leak to stop the flow so the well can then be sealed with cement. The top kill procedure has worked on above-ground oil wells in the Middle East but has never been tested 5,000 feet underwater. Still not sure how the "top kill" procedure works? Check out our explainer.

Who is leading the charge?

BP has been working over the past month to find a way to contain the oil, and as time goes on, some people are wondering just how much can the government do to help - and how much of the problem is for BP to solve.

CNN's Tom Cohen reports that legally, President Obama can effectively fire BP and have the federal government take over efforts to stop the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. The question is whether that would help the situation.

Why are the EPA and BP fighting about dispersants?

The federal government has instructed BP to scale back its use of oil dispersants in the Gulf of Mexico.

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said that dispersants are breaking up much of the oil but that "we are making environmental tradeoffs" and are "deeply concerned" about potential side effects.

CNN's Ed Lavandera digs deeper into the issue.

Backlash against BP

Public patience is wearing thin in Louisiana, where fishing is a $2.4 billion industry, and the continued threat to seafood means there may be tough times again.

"BP We Want Our Beach Back" read one of many signs posted in Grand Isle, Louisiana.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal has publicly expressed frustrations at the red tape hampering the oil cleanup in his state.

And on a major publicity front, BP is finding rough waters too: A fake BP public relations Twitter account is mocking the cleanup efforts and gaining a lot of attention. With posts from the account @BPGlobalPR directing people not to clean up the shores because the oil is BP's property and they will be sued, and one saying "the ocean looks just a bit slimmer today. Dressing it in black really did the trick! #bpcares" it is clear that frustration is growing against the company in some form.

And while it seems to be painfully obvious that the Twitter account is fake, it has more than double the number of followers of BP's actual Twitter account (@BP_America).

soundoff (74 Responses)
  1. Stephen

    36 days. Easily 40 millions gallons of oil spilled into the Gulf of Mexico and BP knows it is at least 40 million gallons. What a shame.

    May 25, 2010 at 11:49 am | Report abuse |
    • K Fulks

      According to the the National Research Council, natural seepage of crude oil from geologic formations below the seafloor is estimated to exceed 47million gallons in North American waters and 180 million gallons globally EVERY YEAR.

      Crude oil seeped into the waters around Louisiana for thousands of years and only stopped when we (humans) began drilling offshore Louisiana and draining those reservoirs.

      This is a major event, but we need to keep some perspective.

      May 25, 2010 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • nam

      K FULKS.. you are so ignorant it's UNREAL! Yes, gas etc naturally filters to the sea floor over a long period of time... this is 40+ million gallons of oil dumped in one month... and it's all concentrated into a smaller area... the impact it has is huge for those environments. This will take years to clear out and the impact on wildlife and fishing will be substantial. The wrecklessness and lack of detail and planning that oil companies have and their total disregard for the safety and wellbeing of the enviroment is disgusting.

      May 25, 2010 at 2:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • K Fulks

      This was not my research. The fact that you don't like my number doesn't mean I made it up. Google it. And I don't consider one year to be a particularly long time.

      If you are on your computer, you are using petroleum products (Both the materials the computer is made of and the electricity powering it). You think the people who provide those products are evil, do your part...turn off your computer.

      May 25, 2010 at 2:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Gil

      K Fluks...
      seriously? Can you not tell the difference in what "natural" seepage and what's going on here?
      40 days ago there was not a huge destructive oil slick floating a top most of the gulf of mexico, fast forward 30 days and there is one now...
      Does this register at all? Tell you what since you seam to like google. Do a google image search for gulf of mexico and limit your results to a month and a half ago, then do it again for current images....can you see the difference?

      May 25, 2010 at 4:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • yo momma

      fulks really dont gotta be mean its not there fault it exploded jesus! well its horrible animals are dieing n stuff god!!! goodbye from your mom

      May 28, 2010 at 1:29 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Working Mom in Tx

    Okay, let me get this. The "Public Outcry" is for the government to move in and take over P&A ops from BP.
    The same government that can't & won't balance the nation's budget; has bankrupted Social Security, Medicare/Medicade; and too many more programs that there's isn't enough room to list – the same government that has tax cheats, check bouncers, etc.! People get a grip! BP/Halliburton/Transocean should all be held accountable for this leak! GET OUT OF THEIR WAY AND LET THEM WORK! Whenever did you see 2 government workers get together and actually work? All they do is lend lipservice to projects! Obama is outraged at what "he perseves' as no-accountability and finger pointing!?! Maybe he should suck it up and quit blaming everything on the pervious administration – as if he didn't cast a single vote while he was in Congress? I say again – GET OUT OF THE WAY AND LET THE PEOPLE (BP/Halliburton/TransOcean) plug this well!

    May 25, 2010 at 11:56 am | Report abuse |
    • One of the Actual People

      Since when are BP, Halliburton and Tans/Ocean "the people?" As in "We the People??" Or are you subscribing to the Supreme Court's definition of greed-driven corporations as legal people? No one is standing in their way–they could have 100-foot oil skimmers out on the water right now, they could have done a top kill two weeks ago, they could have barricaded the wetlands and beaches with straw bales since day one, before the oil came ashore. Do you know why they didn't? Because they don't want to have to spend a dime more than they are forced to spend by the federal government. They would LOVE to have the government take over the clean up, just as the government had to take over criminal banks' debts and care manufacturers' debts. The so-called "people" are only in it for themselves. And actual people have to pay the price.

      May 25, 2010 at 12:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • slappy white

      I'd like to see you go down the fishing and shrimping docks on the Louisiana coast and say that.

      May 25, 2010 at 1:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Randy

      Amen! She obviously has connecitons to these thieves! BP/Halliburton/Transocean – phewey! all have connections to the former Cheney/Bush regime! warmongers and only care about the $$$...

      I love the recent comment from the princess to be – Palin! She still supports off shore drilling! Wel why the hell would she say anything different? Got to have those oil people's backing to make a run at the white house... Which I am betting will be a joke... everytime she opens her mouth, someone needs to put something in it...:)

      May 25, 2010 at 1:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • wuregan

      I say let the locals have the driving hands in the clean up efforts, boot the oil companies out of authority, Ask President Obama to appoint a person with National Security and Emergency Powers to oversee all oil rig operations along the shores of the gulf coast. No more oil company authority.

      May 25, 2010 at 1:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • ArtFart

      OK, let's see. You don't want the government involved because you're certain they'll screw up, private enterprise failed miserably to even anticipate an event such as this, and is now trying Untested Solution Number Three (or is it four? Do I hear five?) There are already plenty of people praying.

      What else would you suggest?

      May 25, 2010 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
  3. joe rockbottom

    Does everyone see now why we have to keep these companies on a very, very short leash? They are dishonest in the extreme. Indeed, all they know how to do is lie. Lying is the basis of corporate culture: do what you want and the lie to cover it up. BP Corp, as all corporations, is amoral and does not deserve a single second of compassion. Kill the company. They do not deserve to continue. The best course is that they spend themselves into bankruptcy and the corporate officers go to jail. The term should be the same as it takes for all the oil they dumped to fully degrade – Probably several lifetimes for them.

    May 25, 2010 at 11:57 am | Report abuse |
    • Whitrock

      I do hope that you are exagerating to make a point, because that is ludicrous.

      June 2, 2010 at 1:29 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Philip

    The area of the Gulf now covered in oil roughly equals the size of Lake Ontario. Check out how it compares to where ever you would like on this Google Earth app. I found this helped make a real difference in understanding the vastness of the area affected.

    May 25, 2010 at 12:00 pm | Report abuse |
  5. don finklebeath

    bye bye cheap oil.;.. hello cheap oil (tar sands and shale in colo.) hello nuclear!

    May 25, 2010 at 12:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • DugB

      Re: nuclear, there was a great article in Wired a few months ago about Thorium Reactors...Thorium is more abundant in nature, way less hazardous and can't be weaponized (if I remember that correctly). Anyway, there were a number of benefits that made it safer in reactors over uranium or plutonium. I'd be all for a nuclear solution that addressed the issue of waste disposal...unfortunately this accident and Three Mile Island prove that any well thought out idea/technology can go wrong.

      May 25, 2010 at 1:51 pm | Report abuse |
  6. shiny2009

    Working Mom, they've had 36 days...

    May 25, 2010 at 12:04 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Me

    Letting PB and Halliburton clean up this mess is like letting Jack The Ripper perform the murders, the police investigation, and the trial....

    May 25, 2010 at 12:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Scott

      Don't forget letting him participate in creating the laws and punishments concerning murder !!

      May 25, 2010 at 12:37 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Pretend Hero

    If they fail tomorrow, Obama has to step in. Every resource should have been used to get the relief well in and up and running in record time. Every resource should have been used to cordon off the area and contain the oil. Every resource should have been used to wall off the beaches, waterways, inlets and shores.

    But, in every way, every resource is not being used. In our paper this week, here in Minnesota, 2400 of our national guard troops were called be deployed to Afghanistan.

    I had hoped for so much more from Obama. This is going to be worse, and longer lasting, than Katrina, and we have NO LEADERSHIP.

    May 25, 2010 at 12:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • DugB

      I agree re: tomorrow...if they fail someone else has to take over, and the public is going to expect them to already have a plan given how long this has gone on.

      May 25, 2010 at 1:47 pm | Report abuse |
  9. guy

    blow it up – blow it up – blow it up – a big enough bomb will shut it off and cover it up – dam it put an end to this and blow it up

    May 25, 2010 at 12:09 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Dave

    Immediately suspend or revoke all existing permits. Shut down all of BP's US operations until the leak is stopped. Money talks with greedy corporations. If they can stick a pipe down the well why can't they stick an inflatable plug down it? I've seen many high pressure leaks stopped this way.

    May 25, 2010 at 12:28 pm | Report abuse |
  11. demlib

    I guess this is what had to happen to make the public realize what a horrific chant "Drill, Baby Drill" really is. 🙁

    May 25, 2010 at 12:31 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Tom jacobus

    Where are the Feds??? They sure aren't protecting our borders. Now, they don't have the technology and equipment to cap the well or do whatever is possible to stop the flow. They say they have been on the ground since day one...WHERE??? Why aren't they mobilizing resources to clean up the mess they allowed PB to create. They had the oversight and responsibility to review and ensure drilling was done safely. They share the responsiblity to clean up the mess. Everytime I hear someone from the administration say BP has the responsibility to do this, that or the other, I want to scream. Sorry, but you can't pin this incompetence on Bush. Get the bureaucrats and politicians out of the Gulf area and move in the US Army Corp of Engineers and the National Guard with thier resources and heavy equipment. Suspend the usual paperwork and environmental reviews and allow the governors to make things happen.

    May 25, 2010 at 12:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Diana

      Well, first of all, the former administration IS involved by the name of Dick Cheney who went into discussions and personally made SURE the poor oil companies wouldn't have to spend $500,000 on equipment that SHOULD have been on the blowout preventer to stop what has happened here so don't say they are absolved. Second of all the Army Corps of Engineers that seem to impress you so much were singularly responsible for the problems facing New Orleans during Katrina because for 20 YEARS they did NOTHING when they should have been preparing for the disaster to come. The Army Corps of Engineers wouldn't know what to do with this and what's worse they don't WANT to be involved. You haven't heard anything from them have you? They aren't dying to get in there and fix it.

      May 25, 2010 at 1:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tom jacobus

      Wrong! The previous administration can be blamed for all sorts of accidents, but the present administration has been in charge of inspecting the procedures and drilling practices for almost two years now. This platform's blow out preventers and the associated concrete bases were just recently installed and quickly failed. We need to hold those currently in charge and responsible accountable. The present adminsitration is good at blaming Bush or Cheney, but that dosen't solve what we are facing TODAY, nor will it force change so it won't happen again.

      May 25, 2010 at 2:10 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Broke Fisherman

    36 days at 210,000 gallons per day ...

    May 25, 2010 at 12:36 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Kelsey

    Will the oil be able to again be retrieved if and when "top kill" succeeds?

    May 25, 2010 at 12:38 pm | Report abuse |
  15. KD

    Even if the spill isn't capped yet I think that they should be allowing any and everyone to volunteer with the cleanup wherever it is safe to clean.

    May 25, 2010 at 12:45 pm | Report abuse |
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