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. Ken

    Send in the Tea Party, they don't need no stinking government help. Sarah can led them, she should be an expert the Exxon Valdez happened right out side her back door. East one. Drill Baby Drill

    May 25, 2010 at 12:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tom jacobus

      KEN: Tea Party??? Sarah Palin??? Exxon Valdez??? (Not that it matters, but Sarah Palin was a young broadcaster back then...right out of college and just married). Make some sense, man! First of all this is a leadership issue...where is it? The administration says BP is responsible. Only the Federal Government can provide the support the governors need in this massive clean up. Will they screw it up? Probably, but we certainly should hold the Feds accountable for the cleanup. Their lack of oversight permitted this mess to happen.

      May 25, 2010 at 1:28 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Juan Carnal

    Where do I start, I dont even live in the gulf area but I am so mad at the situation. All these rich oil companies seem to do is make billions and pollute our environment. They dont care just like the bp ceo said, the effects will be modest! are you kidding me? They should be fined millions of dollars and with all the money they have this problem should be solved! 36 days encounting, its pathetic. We are just destroying our world. The government needs to fine them and take over this mess and put all the costs on BP, I have always thought that these rich oil snobs are careless about how they do business the least they could do is clean up their mess. My condolences go out to all the residents of the gulf coast. Jobs are lost and with the crappy economy it has to be devastating. I live in minnesota and I am upset I can just imagine how they feel. U.S Gov't do something, talking does not clean up, make BP accountable for there mistake. I am just sick of how the gov't. and BP has handled this.

    May 25, 2010 at 1:00 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Riley

    If there is a fissure from this area going under New Orleans (being below sea level), once the presure out is reversed there may be a big surprise!

    May 25, 2010 at 1:03 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Sam

    One reason BP is trying to keep the actual amount of oil spilling secret is because they will have to pay royalties on it.

    May 25, 2010 at 1:07 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Alex Winter

    Liberals to the rescue!

    May 25, 2010 at 1:08 pm | Report abuse |
  6. AC

    The government should have realized after the Katrina disaster that the bureaucracy doesn’t work in emergency situations and this was an emergency over 30 days ago. All the spin control coming out of Washington is disgusting. They need to appoint a person with the authority and measured risk taking skills to make decisions “on the spot”. Gathering the best minds to figure a solution is TOO LATE! EPA studying the effects of dispersants before using them—you have got to be kidding me—like the dispersants could cause environmental damage – so what! The time for worrying about damage to the environment is over—it is now about minimizing the damage. And, I don’t need the “best minds” to tell me that the dispersant would be less damaging than raw oil infiltrating the marshes and wet lands. And bringing academia (college professors) to figure the best approach—why do you think they are college professors—BECAUSE THEY CAN’T MAKE IT IN THE REAL WORLD.

    May 25, 2010 at 1:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Unreal

      The Federal Government wasn't prepared to cope with a spill of this magnitude because the permits they gave out for drilling in the gulf require the oil companies to certify that they have the means and expertise to take care of worst-case scenario accidents such as this. BP flat-out lied and said they had those capabilities, which they obviously don't. Of course, I don't expect logic or facts to stand in the way of a good, ideologically-motivated rant against the government.

      May 25, 2010 at 2:01 pm | Report abuse |
  7. bobis

    it is amazing that when the Haitian earthquake hit we responded in record time. The People of the US have responded to the Gulf Coast but are being held back by the official and regulators. The sad thing is if we took it upon ourselves to set up hay bales, booms and sand bars we would be fined and imprisoned within hours/days of doing so, yet 36 days later with no clear end in sight not one fine, not one arrest nothing.

    May 25, 2010 at 1:12 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Fred May Sr.

    A funnel large enough to cover the leak should be lowered to the leak. Connect funnel to recovery ship with a pipe. Pump on ship will draw oil to the ship. Nothing ventured nothing, nothing gained. A little common sense goes a long. Some times intelligence gets in the way of common sense.

    May 25, 2010 at 1:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • K Fulks

      Tried that...the problem is that the "funnel" fills up with hydrates (ice-like crystals formed from methane and water), and hydrate formation is un avoidable at these temperatures and pressures (40 deg F, and 2000 psi). People who don't understand the industry, the physics or the chemistry really shouldn't be responding.

      May 25, 2010 at 1:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • DugB

      The latter statement makes me think you got fed up with Carter and voted for Reagan. Just kidding, Fred! 🙂 I do wonder why they didn't drop that dome over the spill at least while they weigh other options. They already had it made, already had it down there, and already had a tactic developed for dealing with the crystal formation that killed the original dome idea. Instead they leave the well to spew for weeks unhindered.

      May 25, 2010 at 1:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • DugB

      K, what happened to the idea of filling the dome with alcohol while they were lowering it, to prevent the crystals from forming? If that was tried and failed as well it certainly wasn't publicized in the mainstream. It begs the question: if we can't handle a well emergency/failure at this depth then why are we drilling at this depth?

      May 25, 2010 at 1:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • K Fulks

      How do you keep the alcohol in the dome? By definition it has an open bottom. And alcohols (particularly methanol) don't eliminate hydrates, they lower the temperature at which they will form. However, at 2000 PSI (pressure at the sea floor) hydrates form at relatively high temperatures compared to the temperature of the water. So basically methanol probably can't lower the temperature enough and would require large volumes even if it could.

      May 25, 2010 at 2:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • james johnson

      You are right. I had the same idea. I did a google search and found your idea. The oil is coming up now and it isn't freezing. Maybe use a flexible funnel with a wider tube that leads to the surface.

      June 7, 2010 at 8:51 am | Report abuse |
  9. Tim

    Maybe BP should be nationalized and assets seized until this is fixed and all damages have been paid. Considering the irreparable environmental crimes they have committed. And there should be an independent investigation. Unfortunately, many of our politicians are in bed with oil companies. hence, one of the wars.

    Citizens are outraged. Washington politicians are very quite. I guess this is truly a corporate state now.

    May 25, 2010 at 1:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • K Fulks

      BP is a British company. Pretty sure we can't nationalize them. Congress wanted to nationalize Shell last year when gasoline prices got so high. Turns out they are Dutch. Ha! Don't forget, the federal government owns 12.5% of that oil.

      May 25, 2010 at 1:39 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Rand Paul

    Accidents happen.

    May 25, 2010 at 1:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Fred May Sr.

      Just like a politician. How much did you recieve to make that statement.

      May 25, 2010 at 1:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • bobis

      This wasn't an accident.

      May 25, 2010 at 1:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • K Fulks

      Bobis,
      So you are suggesting that the men and women that worked on this drilling rig... that ate every meal together, and the lived and worked together, that were basically like family for two weeks out of every month...did something that destroyed a $100 million dollar rig, eliminated their jobs, and killed 11 of their co-worker ON PURPOSE???

      You are a callous idiot!

      May 25, 2010 at 2:07 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Riley

    Complain, complain, we will just have to get used to oil between our toes, while all those bailed out by Congress go to the oil free beaches. Has anyone read of what Abraham Lincoln wrote concerning the only manner the United States could ever be in danger?

    May 25, 2010 at 1:27 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Steve on the Coast

    This is what SMALLER GOVERNMENT gets you! I cringe everytime I hear a conservative preach we need smaller government. Less regulation means the more the powerful corporations can take short cuts in the name of profits.

    May 25, 2010 at 1:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • DugB

      I know...with this spill, the mortgage crisis, the AIG meltdown, the ensuing financial mess, no-bid contracts for wartime contractors and such you'd think that conservatives would realize that unregulated industry is the "devil's workshop". Leave greedy jerks to their own devices and all they do is serve their own greed at the expense of everyone else. But that's the best part of it all...while the right wing looks out for the interests of their country club friends they've duped half of America into thinking they actually care about family values, abortion and gun rights. It's the con of the century! Anyone who thinks they care about family values must have a pretty interesting interpretation of "values", that's for sure.

      May 25, 2010 at 1:39 pm | Report abuse |
  13. DugB

    I love how Jindal is turning this into a government failure...like the Coast Guard is supposed to step right in with its fleet of deep-sea drilling and well capping ships, which it has on hand for just this type of thing. I do agree that all existing BP permits should be suspended, and no new ones issued, but keep in mind that this isn't only BP's fault. I'd be perfectly happy seeing TransOceanic sued right out of existence – why should they get to exist and keep their jobs when this whole thing will likely spell ruin for countless fishing families, and likely entire gulf coast towns. Go to the Chesapeake Bay town of Oyster to see what these towns will be like...once thriving industries gone, they're little more than ghost towns. Like anyone in the US will buy another gallon of BP fuel again (if they know it's from BP).

    May 25, 2010 at 1:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • bobis

      Pull all permits including the latest one for the Shell Alaska deep water project. No new drilling activity until rules and regs revised and implemented on current drill sites both onshore and off.

      May 25, 2010 at 1:45 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Craig N. Barthelmas

    Subject: PRO-ACTIVE OIL SPILL CONTINGENCY PLAN, Dated: 10 May, 2010

    TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN: Here’s a contingency plan that has patented technology and a process that really works.

    1. We found a pre-processed material and developed an action plan that would have extracted up to 95% of the oil spill contaminants from seeded surface waters of the Gulf of Mexico, before it hit land fall.
    2. Our product is a, “Modified Oil Spill Environmental Sponge” dubbed M.O.S.E.S., it is a ¼” to ½” product that can be used to absorb oil contaminants from both “fresh water and salt water” surface oil spills. Our tests have concluded that one ton of product will absorb 125 gallons of oil in less than one hour. Simply put it will absorb approximately one half of its weight in oil. M.O.S.E.S. collects/absorbs oil not water. After saturation M.O.S.E.S. will only contain about 1.4% water. It creates no added impact on marine life or the environment. It also poses no threat to other kinds of wildlife including humans. A fifteen minute test will prove this process works.
    3. Our plan is full circle and includes staging, seeding, re-claiming and re-processing all of the contaminated oil’s and seed materials back into re-usable fuels and commodities.
    4. Due to the urgencies to reduce the impact on the environment and the magnitude of this spill, our plan required partnering with the Coast Guard and other organizations that were already being used to provide staging, seeding and reclaim operations.
    5. Seeding operations were to be handled in essentially the same way they were being done, with minor and/or no modifications to airborne or aquatic equipment that would handle spreading ¼” to ½” particulates.
    6. Re-claim operations required the same booms, scoops, pumps and barge operations, that were being used.
    7. Re-processing operations proposed a permanent emissions free plant for processing oil, sand and other like materials into re-usable fuels and commodities. The plant would take approximately ninety to one hundred and fifty days to construct and would become a permanent part of a states fast action response to future oil spills.
    8. Our plan would have first, assisted with the on-going damage control operations in the gulf; second, it could have been put into operation within seven days; third, it would have become a $30,000,000.00 per year financial benefit to the communities that embraced staging and plant processing operations.
    9. This plan will greatly reduced the time and costs associated with this kind of oil spill in the future. We are confident that this type of pro-active plan would become a template for other high risk (oceanic) areas.
    So, why was this plan given no consideration at all? It is not a question of if another spill will happen, but when! The only excuses we have been able to come up with that, we are sure you are going to here are, as follows:
    a. BP, News Networks and Government Agencies didn’t have the time to consider a pro-active long term plan?
    b. We were crack pots when, this technology is patented and the product could be tested in fifteen minutes?
    c. BP has it under control as, they have done this before? Yes and, crazy is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results! We need to get past these smoke screens and prepare for future spills.
    Thank you for your time and consideration. We’d love to receive some constructive input from anyone who is listening.
    Craig N. Barthelmas, Verizon Cell: [313] 682-1428, E-Mail: GE1RE22@aol.com
    CC: BP., CNN, FOX NEWS, NOAA, Governors of: AL., FL., LA., MS., And TX.

    May 25, 2010 at 1:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Craig N. Barthelmas

      ATTENTION!! The PRO-ACTIVE OIL SPILL CONTINGENCY PLAN listed above will not plug oil leaks but, it will address five major problems; two of witch, are concerns that have not been addressed in the media or in the government.
      1. It truly is a LONG TERM-CONTINGENCY PLAN. It will help the community rebuild revenues while providing a fast action operational plan for future oil spills. Yes! Future oil spills will surely occur, despite future prevention efforts!
      2. This plan is full circle and would included staging, seeding, re-claiming and re-processing all of the contaminated oil’s, oil filled sands and seed materials back into re-usable fuels and commodities.
      3. It creates no added impact on marine life or the environment. It also poses no threat to humans and/or other forms of wildlife. Oil, feed stock and sand processing are near emissions free processes.
      4. It will generate $30,000,000.00 worth of new revenues for the communities that embrace staging and plant processing operations. The plant would remain in full operation after the clean-up is done.
      5. It will also add about forty new jobs to the community. This is not only a plan to help with short term clean up’s, it will also have a positive long term and lasting effect on the community as well.
      We all know that BP has been feeding us misinformation and then trying to mobilize volunteers to help minimize their cost. Yes! We sent BP and other agencies this plan. Operations of this nature have a price tag associated with them and so, it would appear that they have no wish to spend anything on spills they can’t control or that won’t go back into their pockets. The OMRS-100 technology is patented and, M.O.S.E.S. (The oil absorbent) can be tested in less than fifteen minutes!
      As always our government is seeking a short term quickie (political talk) so we can get a long term scr**ing! Has anyone mentioned where they (BP) plan to put and/or dispose of all of that contaminated; oil, sand and material? We are pretty sure that without intervention it will be in somebody’s back yard, neatly hidden from sight, killing something else. Don’t you think that any oil spill plan should at least consider: Prevention, Mobilization, Extraction and Disposal Operations?
      Thank you for your time. We would love to receive some constructive input from anyone who is as concerned as we are.
      Craig N. Barthelmas, Verizon Cell: [313] 682-1428, E-Mail: GE1RE22@aol.com

      May 25, 2010 at 1:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • bobis

      Mr. Barthelmas,
      Given that your plan is sensible, timely, cost efficeint, low impact and proven, do not think that it will be considered for one second because you are forgetting the most important part to anything being implemented by our leaders: You aren't making any of them rich or powerful by it. You are in fact exposing how ignorant and corrupt they really are.

      Do not give up. Keep screaming, kicking and fighting until someone in the mainstream media get this. Post this on all the social media sites and watch the fire ignite. Good luck to you. I wish you much success.

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

      Craig, call and email Governor Bobby Jindal's office they will LISTEN!

      May 25, 2010 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
  15. NickNaughty

    What I find most intriguing is how CNN and BBC are so QUIET about all this. Actually had to search a bit to get to this specific article. News like Tiger Woods are ranked higher by them.. hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm...

    May 25, 2010 at 1:46 pm | Report abuse |
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