May 28th, 2010
10:49 AM ET

Day 39: Latest Gulf oil spill updates

Oil comes ashore at the Grand Isle East State Park in Louisiana.

Here are the latest developments Thursday involving the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico:

[Updated at 10:49 a.m.] BP has measured "some success" with a risky procedure known as "top kill," which has never been tried before a mile under the ocean's surface, the company's top executive, Tony Hayward, said Friday.

[Posted at 10:00 a.m.]

The Cleanup

- President Barack Obama is traveling to Louisiana Friday to get a bird's-eye view of the devastation and the cleanup efforts.

- Engineers tried the "junk shot" method to try to stop a massive oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico, finishing their attempt early Friday, BP's Chief Executive Tony Hayward said. The company plans to resume its "top kill" method, pumping heavy mud into the leak, later Friday, he said.

- Hayward said it will be 48 hours before any conclusions can be drawn about the operation's success. "I know that is frustrating for everyone," he said. "I want to get this over with as soon as we possibly can. We are doing everything we can to achieve that."

- Hayward, who had previously said the environmental impact of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill would be modest, upgraded his assessment Friday to an "environmental catastrophe."

- Even if BP were to successfully plug the well this weekend, the Gulf oil spill is still the largest in U.S. history. Government scientists said Thursday that as many as 19,000 barrels (798,000 gallons) of oil were spewing into the ocean every day, making this disaster perhaps twice the size of the Exxon Valdez incident.

Health problems

- Seven oil spill recovery workers who were hospitalized in New Orleans after complaining of feeling ill were properly trained and had protective gear on, according to the federal on-scene coordinator for the oil spill response effort in the Gulf of Mexico.

- Coast Guard Rear Adm. Mary Landry said workers were treated for several symptoms, including headaches, nausea, vomiting and shortness of breath. Safety officials from the Coast Guard, BP and the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration have responded.

- BP says it has provided spill recovery workers with protective equipment, such as suits, steel-toed boots, gloves, hard hats and safety glasses. In addition, BP said, workers are conducting about 250 air-quality tests a day. They also are testing workers for exposure to irritants and other substances that could be harmful, BP said.


- Images from the massive BP oil spill have prompted many tourists to bolt to other destinations this Memorial Day weekend.

- Hotels in Florida, Alabama and Mississippi are using everything from "beach cams" and money-back guarantees to constant updates on their Web sites to get the word out that their beaches are clean and open for business.

- In Louisiana, hotels catering to sport fishermen are seeing a falloff in bookings, but that's been offset by the masses of recovery workers, BP employees and journalists who have poured into the area.

- Oil prices rose for the third day in a row Friday, as traders anticipate a 6-month moratorium on new offshore drilling permits and other responses to the Gulf oil spill could mean supply decreases in the long-term.

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Filed under: BP • Gulf Coast Oil Spill
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  1. Bill

    BP blows. I know it is easy to jump on them now but this is out of hand. That company needs to be liquidated and started anew. Pay their workers a severance and the bulk of the money goes towards cleanup. We have no choice. Maybe this was the wakeup call the world needed.

    May 28, 2010 at 10:07 am | Report abuse |
    • diaryofamisEducatedblackman

      The pictures from this thing r unreal...And you're right, BP needs to be blown up. The damage that theyve cost economically to those businesses down there is gonna sting for quite sometime. who's gonna plan a vacation to the gulf now?

      May 28, 2010 at 11:19 am | Report abuse |
    • Eric

      Right on Bill. I would add that Americans should pay close attention to the politicians who attempt to defend BP from massive fines. These elected Washington lackeys for big corporations will come up with very clever arguments, but don't be fooled by any of it. They should be voted out. As horrible as the deaths and injuries were to the poor workers, the people of the Gulf will suffer for years and even generations. Lives are being ruined. We should not even hesitate seizing every American based asset that BP has, and morphing it into a non-profit corporation that, while continuing to employ its workers, takes every penny of profits and sends it to the Gulf States. If I hear one more let-me-point-out-the-obvious speech from Obama I'm going to scream. And I voted for him! Drop the professor act and put on the boxing gloves Mr. President. Time to defend your country.

      May 28, 2010 at 12:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Toelle Canada

      It has been reported. As long as we are seeing just Mud and Gas escaping, then those are not going to harm the environment. If this is true then does it follow ? Although a complete stopping is preferable could be then argued just maintain the Mud/Gas until a relief well has been completed.
      Respectively submitted HT

      May 28, 2010 at 4:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      What nonsense. As with most people who post on "news" boards you are just vitriolic and without much common sense. Why on earth do you think this Transocean oil spill is being technically dealt with in anything other than the most concerned approach by BP and Transocean? You ever tried dealing with something so technically advanced as this?

      May 28, 2010 at 4:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • iminnola3

      I don't understand how a news giant like CNN cannot find out the reason the top kill was halted. I read it on our local news website here in New Orleans less than an hour after they stopped pumping mud. They ran out of mud and had to get another load.

      If CNN, with all its resources to discover and report news can't seem to find the truth of what happened over 24 hours ago when any concerned locals knew within an hour after they stopped top kill why they did so, why are they surprised when individuals that they select to speak with don't know either.

      Put your ear to the ground CNN. My faith in you is seriously flagging.

      May 28, 2010 at 4:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jimmy K

      Please- BP – stand the pipe back up, connect a cable to the pipe, lift the pipe, if it breaks, so what? you are going to cut it anyway. if it does not break, wrap a boot around it. This will allow the least amount of oil into the gulf. if the pipe breaks, have the 2nd gen TOP HAT ready. drop it on there and sinch it down, why have they NOT tried to stand the pipe back up? if they are cutting it anyway, it is baffling me.

      May 29, 2010 at 8:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Gracie thomas

      i def agree with u and i dont understand how stupid people could do such a stupid sting u need to clean it up

      June 3, 2010 at 8:21 pm | Report abuse |
  2. kletch

    They have a robotic arm down there, Why don't they simply insert some flat rods with burred ends that will lodge themselves in the pipe. Put enough in there and they will slow down the flow and allow the pipe to be capped. Common sence plugging the pipe.

    May 28, 2010 at 10:14 am | Report abuse |
    • Mark

      Q: Why not plug the pipe by stuffing things down the pipe?
      A: Pressure. You can't stick anything down that pipe. No robot arm is strong enough to go against the flow (Oh, and the pipe's a bit bent, too, but I don't know the angle or position). That oil is gushing from an area of higher pressure (the reservoir) to one of lower pressure (the ocean) as physics says it must. When you realize that teh pressure of the ocean at that depth is about 2270 pounds per square inch. That's over a ton of pressure on every square inch.
      The oil is at an even higher pressure.
      OK, but the pressure in the immediate environment is equalized, so you're just fighting the flow pressure. The flow rate has been likened to a strong fire hose. Figure about 18 bar, or 265 pounds per square inch. Even in the unlikely event one of teh ROVs has an arm strong enough to push a 1" bar into the pipe with 265 pounds of strength (and somehow eeping the arm out of the flow, which would increase area, and thus the pressure to fight), that ROV isn't very big, and it's not anchored, so it's more likely to be pushed out of the way than actually get the bar in the hole.
      And we haven't even touched how to get the first bar(s) to stay in the pipe without becoming ballista-bolt-like projectiles.

      As it is, whatever they are injecting into the flow, they are doing through pipes connected to the sides, which allows the flow to actually help pull in the material by a sort of vacuum action. Whether it will all get shot out the end or start to gum up the works remainst to be seen.

      May 28, 2010 at 1:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • jim cordo

      this is a mess. bp must stop using the chemical dispersants under water right now. these chemicals are keeping the oil under the surface to make the spill look smaller than it really is. these mega underwater plumes will do intense damge to the fish and they are almost impossable to clean up. this only serves bp.
      these chemicals have never been ... See Moreused at any depths, previously only being used on the surface oil. that helps break the oil up along with the sun and exposure to air. these chemicals will only 'hide' the oil and actually prevent it from breaking down naturally by keeping it underwater and away from the sun and air.
      face the fact that the oil is there with no sign of stopping. this 'top kill' doesnt look as good as it once did for stopping this leak. let the oil surface so it can be tracked and cleaned.
      and hire the local captains and other people to get some boats – no ALL the boats -and booms and hay an stuff out there right now.
      what a mess 🙁

      May 28, 2010 at 1:25 pm | Report abuse |
  3. K. Johnson

    Americans need to start realizing the power they really do have. It's time to send a message loud and clear....... BOYCOTT BP

    May 28, 2010 at 10:15 am | Report abuse |
    • JBooneMN

      Good in theory. Problem is that BP is everywhere from your car tires to your vasoline. If you boycott your local gas station, all you're doing is hurting the small business owner that is struggling anyway. The only good it does is gives you a good feeling of fighting back...BP won't notice.

      May 28, 2010 at 10:32 am | Report abuse |
    • John K

      BP the oil company doesn't own BP gas stations. BP the oil company produces oil and gasoline. If a boycott affects sales at BP branded gas stations, then BP will just sell their excess oil and gas on the open market. This means ANY gasoline you buy from ANY station could be BP gas.

      The best (and only) solution is to try to reduce the amount of petroleum products that you use in general.

      May 28, 2010 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Steve

      I absolutely love everyone slamming BP here... Did we forget that the Government gave this rig an award for safety? Or have our minds only focused or what's being told to us?

      May 28, 2010 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
  4. peter louie

    I don't understand why we waited for the culprit who set the house on fire to put the fire out! We sat there for over a month and watch the oil spill to damage our environment. I believe we listen too much to the nonsense uttered by lawyers that if we do anything we might jeopardize our case against BP. We have also heard misinformed news reporter (even from cnn) suggesting that only BP can solve the problem. This is a simple engineering problem that the Corp of Engineers can deal with in a few days and not over a month! In the mean time, there are tons of things can be done to keep the oil from reaching our precious shoreline. We've sat on our hands and done absolutely nothing. I am not just blowing hot air and offered no constructive ideas– many of your viewers, including myself, have suggested many viable ideas that are doable, inexpensive and quick.

    May 28, 2010 at 10:18 am | Report abuse |
    • red

      Have you watched the video feed from the seabed. I watched for about 5 minutes this morning and the robot got one nut tightened on some pump. It takes time and effort. The equipment they are using some of it looks as if they had to build it from scratch. That takes time. Unfortunately the well is in 5,000 feet of water and no one can work at that depth so robots must be used. This is not a defense of BP but a common sense realization that things take time to do right.

      May 28, 2010 at 10:42 am | Report abuse |
  5. JL

    I can not believe that I still see so many cars filling up at BP gas stations. Come on folks – there is only hope for tomorrow if we wake up today!

    May 28, 2010 at 10:23 am | Report abuse |
    • red

      There is an oil terminal near my house. All the gas stations in the area buy gas from the owner of the terminal. It does not matter if the station is Resca, Exxon, Chevron, BP, Shell, whatever, they all buy their oil and gasoline from the same distributor. Guess who sells the gas to the distributor – BP. So we cannot boycott BP in our area.

      May 28, 2010 at 10:44 am | Report abuse |
    • Sandi

      Boycotting will only work if all the gas stations are owned by BP – corporate stores. However, more retail gas stations are franchised. Boycotting a franchised station only hurts the owner of the franchise thereby putting another small American business at risk of bankruptcy.

      I think everyone if forgetting that BP only owns the rights to the oil. It was TransOcean or Halliburton that was actually involved in the actual drilling process. And now everyone is finger pointing at the other guy.

      What is needed now to help with the clean-up is gigantic oil-water separators – and lots of them.

      May 28, 2010 at 10:54 am | Report abuse |
  6. PO'd Albertan

    These images remind me of the story National Geographic did about our OIlsands and how dirty it was. It made me mad then, and even more angry now. Who was it that had dirty oil again?

    May 28, 2010 at 10:24 am | Report abuse |
  7. M. Jacobs

    Why did it take over a month for BP to try the top kill? I'm guessing they weren't quite ready to give up the well just yet. Now the gulf is ruined and it will take years for it to recover. I'm glad to see the media finally putting pressure on BP and Washington, but this has also taken too long. When the spill first happened, all that was on the news was how Betty White was terrific on SNL. I wonder about all of the advertising revenue that would have been lost if the media jumped on the story from the beginning. Everyone tried to sweep this story under the rug. Now it's too little, too late.

    May 28, 2010 at 10:30 am | Report abuse |
    • marissa

      I agree!! Where was the media???? It is so sickening..and what about our poor sea life?? All our birds, and fish, turtles,dolphins, whales??? It is so sad I cant take it!!! I still believe the media what have jumped on this if it was a Republican in office..Thats a fact..What I dont get is BP only had one safety shut-off valve?? Its Disgusting..they built it and they cant fix it?? I dont get it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! DISGUSTING

      May 29, 2010 at 10:40 am | Report abuse |
  8. w blake

    Errr, the leak is five thousand feet under the ocean. Let's see you stop a small leak at the bottom of your swimming pool. The oil is under great pressure, so stuffing the hole full of stuff won't be easy (remember, where is this?) BP just happens to be the unfortunate company in the limelight, this could have happened to *any* company operating a rig under the rules that existed at the time. Boycott oil is a better response as it is our dependence on it that will prompt more of these. Anyway, you worry about this leak, but even today it is nothing compared to the oil we dump down our sewers, our waterways, into the ocean by shipping. Let's look at the scale and how all of the attention here is allowing others to get away with less, but on a much more vast scale. The Corps of Engineers are not magicians. BP was leasing the rig, someone else owns and operates it, and Haliburton made and installed the blow-out preventer that failed miserably. Where are they in all of this. BP is the one carrying the can. How about look where blame lies, and a lot is our politicians that lossened the rules to allow this to happen in the first place. Maybe they should be voted out, regardless of party stripe (they are all basically the same anyway...)

    May 28, 2010 at 10:35 am | Report abuse |
    • Wassup

      Halliburton didn't make the BOP, Cameron did. Just an fyi, wanted to make sure your facts were straight.

      May 28, 2010 at 11:49 am | Report abuse |
  9. Dan

    "BP says it has provided spill recovery workers with protective equipment, such as suits, steel-toed boots, gloves, hard hats and safety glasses. In addition, BP said, workers are conducting about 250 air-quality tests a day. They also are testing workers for exposure to irritants and other substances that could be harmful, BP said"

    I feel much better that people are wearing steel toed boots for an oil clean up, and I feel much better that BP is conducting the air quality tests – just like they were initially reporting the amount of oil spewing out of the spouts!

    May 28, 2010 at 10:38 am | Report abuse |
  10. Chris

    Is it significant that no live feed seems to show the ruptured pipe? Is the flow stopped or is every camera pointed away for some reason ?

    May 28, 2010 at 10:39 am | Report abuse |
    • red

      It did yesterday. Right now it is just showing the robots working. Maybe so you can get some sense of how frustrating it is to work in 5,000 of water with a machine.

      May 28, 2010 at 10:48 am | Report abuse |
    • John

      they keep the cameras on the tiny leak on top of the riser so that everyone will forget the 21 inch gusher (spewing roughly a barrel per second) further down the pipe. Not only that but they just blasted 50-100 barrels of drilling mud and junk shot into the ocean via that port... probably not a pretty sight.

      May 28, 2010 at 3:13 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Jeff

    I think the reason they had to wait for a few weeks before trying this top kill is due to the pressure in the well. They needed to let some oil escape so that the pressure would drop low enough for the top kill method to work. It has nothing to do with Obama or BP – it is how an oil well works. Just like your garden hose – when you first open the nozzle it spurts – then dies down to a normal flow.

    May 28, 2010 at 10:40 am | Report abuse |
    • Mark

      I'm not sure that much pressure has been relieved, but the consistency has changed from mostly natural gas to mostly oil, so the viscosity is way up.

      May 28, 2010 at 1:20 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Dan

    Huge freighters are goinr around and sucking up surface oil with the huge bladder ballasts, while 19000 barrels of oil are constantly spewing out of the ground. Hmmm... I hate to be the pesimist, but we're absolutely fricken screwed up in the mind if we think we are making an impact on this perpetual disaster.

    May 28, 2010 at 10:40 am | Report abuse |
    • Joel

      Something is better than nothing no matter how little is removed from our waters.

      May 28, 2010 at 12:41 pm | Report abuse |
  13. damiao

    No words...

    May 28, 2010 at 10:42 am | Report abuse |
  14. Dan

    Top kill was the last option from a very slim list of options. It probably blew the whole damn thing up, which would explain the pulled live feed.

    May 28, 2010 at 10:42 am | Report abuse |
  15. David Lawrence

    Don't know if this could work, attach a thick, (deflated) inflatable ball of some sort to an infator tube, all sleeved by another tube. Insert into hole, push inflator tube out, and inflate ball to clog well. Maybe?

    May 28, 2010 at 10:43 am | Report abuse |
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