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
soundoff (101 Responses)
  1. Dan

    Too much pressure, they would have done that.

    May 28, 2010 at 10:45 am | Report abuse |
  2. PF

    The story is starting to come together if you listen well. BP was in a hurry to finish the well and move on to another. The celebration had already been planned. There were problems with the cement casing, but Schlumberger was sent away before the logging was done. BP was calling all the shots on the rig and chose schedule over safety. This is not the first time BP has done this. The decision to keep going when there were signs of problems is the root cause, but it appears just about every safety system installed failed to activate.
    It is a shame that all oil companies will now be painted with the broad brush of incompetency just because BP continues to make mistakes.

    May 28, 2010 at 10:46 am | Report abuse |
  3. getagrip

    Easy to jump on BP if you don't understand the detaills. They did not delay their response. They have no interest in creating a larger spill that they will have to clean up. Other major oil and gas companies have provided input on the response and some of the brightest people on the planet are working this response. No one understands the details of this situation better than the folks who do this deepwater work. Need to realize that many steps that could be attempted might make the situation much worse. A methodical analytical approach is the only way to minimize further risk and damage.

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

      BP is going to go bankrupt over this. They do not care. If the world and the human race are doomed because of this thing they caused and cannot stop, then what in the hell do they care about their profit loss. When food becomes scarce, and it becomes a free for all, money will NOT MATTER.

      May 28, 2010 at 10:51 am | Report abuse |
    • Tim

      I remember several years back, a tractor trailer was stuck under a bridge near my home. The rigs trailer was lodged under the bridge and traffic was backed up for miles. The police and fire department were on site, they even brought out engineers to try and figure out how to get this trailer out from under the bridge. Hours went by and none of the brightest minds on scene could figure out how to get this thing out. At home, a twelve year old boy and his Dad were watching the story unfold on the news. The boy looked at his Dad and said, "Daddy, why don't they just let the air out of the tires?" Sometimes the "brightest minds" are NOT what is needed.

      May 28, 2010 at 11:43 am | Report abuse |
  4. Dan

    Well, if all oil companies are following a similar cost cutting route of sacrificing safety for time constraints, then yes – WE CAN PLACE BLAME ALL AROUND ON ALL OF THESE OIL RIGS!!

    May 28, 2010 at 10:49 am | Report abuse |
  5. rc

    People don't realize the reason this is taking so long to stop isn't just because it's 5000 ft. under water, it's also because this is highly flammable. What if the whole thing exploded, then where would we be? There is quite a bit of natural gas coming from the same leak and any spark could set the whole thing off. All procedures need to be heavily scrutinized or it could get a whole lot worse in a very short period of time, how about a crater gushing oil instead of a leaking 5 ft. pipe? BP spent quite a bit of money on an ad campaign designed to make people think they cared about alternative energy and the environment, shame on them for the lie and shame on us for buying it. When will we stop polluting the very substance that gives us all life? Drill baby drill....our graves.

    May 28, 2010 at 10:56 am | Report abuse |
    • John K

      To have a natural gas explosion, you need fuel, a spark, and a plentiful source of oxygen. Guess which one of those three is in very short supply on the seafloor?

      May 28, 2010 at 2:30 pm | Report abuse |
  6. red

    Lets try an experiment. It is called "How do we fix a broken oil well". The well is in 5,000 of water so we cannot use people to fix it. It is 40 miles from the nearest land and further from the nearest port. There is a lot of debris on the seabed near the broken pipe that was attached to the drill rig. Oil is gushing out at a high rate and under a lot of pressure. First question: how are you gong to get people to the site? Now that we know that, second question: how many ships are available to get the people to the site? Ok. Third question: how soon can you get enough people and all the supplies they need to live at the site, to the site? Fourth question: what is going on on the seabed? Fifth question: are there any robotic submersibles taht can work in 5,000 of water available? Sixth question: how soon can the submersibles be gotten to the site? Seventh question: how are you going to get them to the site? Eight question: do you have enough trained submersible operators available that are qualified to work on this type of situation? Ok, you still at this point in your planning do not even know what is going on on the seabed. There are thousands of more questins that must be asked, debated, and answered before you can even begin to do ANYTHING. Get it through your heads that this is not easy and it takes time.

    May 28, 2010 at 11:01 am | Report abuse |
    • Uh yeah.

      All good questions to ask. And ones that should have been asked and answered BEFORE

      May 28, 2010 at 1:46 pm | Report abuse |
  7. DavidK

    The scariest part about this accident is the apparent failure on the part of the oil industry to have a contingency plan for dealing with a blowout at this depth. It seems that everything is dependent upon the blowout preventer operating properly. If that fails then they have nothing to fall back on and are forced to come up with steps to take. That the industry does not have a plan is nothing short of abysmal.
    Also don't everyone blame BP, remember the rig was rented from another company and the blowout preventer was leased from a third party. The entire industry needs to bear the brunt of the blame regarding the issues surrounding this accident.

    May 28, 2010 at 11:02 am | Report abuse |
    • red

      True but BP is gooing to have to pay for this one all on their own. They can sue their contractors afterward.

      May 28, 2010 at 11:05 am | Report abuse |
    • 2Small2Fail

      It goes directly to the point that there has to be reliable oversight regarding such technologies, leaving the question: Can we trust the companies themselves to provide that? Can we trust government to provide that? How do we make sure such oversight is in place? It seems pretty clear that companies operating under the current economic system of investor-driven capital will almost always opt for approaches that will perceivably maximize quarterly profits. And governments riddled with crporate shills will turn a blind eye...until something like this happens. Just like the financial crisis, his is another example of the kind of world we are creating or allowing when short term profit is the primary concern.

      May 28, 2010 at 12:33 pm | Report abuse |
  8. jim elliot

    Information on burn booms was taken off the Depp Water Horizon Response site.
    Where are the skimmers, how many are needed to do as much as can be done.
    What is the Coastguard waiting for?
    Why is the military not doing what they did for the oil spill in Kuwait?
    Where's our leadership?
    Where's the news? Why is this so hush hush? Who's making that call?

    May 28, 2010 at 11:02 am | Report abuse |
    • red

      Even more questions that need answers before we can get this finished. It never ends.

      May 28, 2010 at 11:04 am | Report abuse |
  9. Dan

    Watch, our eyes have become so glued to this stupid live feed video, BP only has to move the camera ten feet away off the plumes and poof – they can say it's fixed!!

    May 28, 2010 at 11:03 am | Report abuse |
  10. Tony Kassebaum

    Hopefully they will get the well under control, at least they cut back on the use of dispersants, as all it does is change the viscosity of the crude, so it floats below the surface, as well as have a drastic effect on the marine life. It's the massive underwater plumes of these suspended hydrocarbons, in the seawater that as they surface the cleanup will last for years.......The main issue is to get the well sealed. I used to work offshore in the 80's, I was in Mexico in the aftermath of Ixtoc, and that took a year to bring under control. If they loaded the junk shot correctly, and the pieces can wedge against whatever component pieces that are left inside the BOP, and there is enough of the material, this along with the bridging material, they have a shot at it. Do keep in mind, this is 1 mile below the surface, and there are no second chances if they blow off the top of the BOP where the riser is bent. I found it really interesting, that the BP company man on the Deepwater Horizon refused to testify at recent hearing....He took the 5th amendment. What does that tell you......

    May 28, 2010 at 11:05 am | Report abuse |
    • red

      Yeah I guess BP was not going to back him up so he ducked and covered. Does not mean he is innocent. 😉

      May 28, 2010 at 11:08 am | Report abuse |
  11. M. Jacobs

    To everyone who says that BP is doing all they can, or that it's 5,000 feet down, and it's not that easy, thanks for stating the obvious. My position is that BP should have made it clear from the moment this happened that it would be a catastrophe. We could have mobilized more resources to the gulf immediately, and the surrounding area put on red alert. I believe they were, and still are, covering the extent of the damage. Even up here in NJ, they are preparing for oil from the gulf to hit our beaches. It may not be this summer, but it's coming, and there is nothing to stop it.

    May 28, 2010 at 11:10 am | Report abuse |
  12. Dan

    How much oil is under the ground where this thing is tapped?? We can figure that out, right? I'll take an estimate.
    In the event this thing can't be fixed, how much oil is going to be in the oceans? We need some truth here.

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

    I hate to suggest the irony in this, but this is around the same area an asteroid struck the Earth and wiped out the dinasaurs... holy sh!^ balls.

    May 28, 2010 at 11:14 am | Report abuse |
  14. Ed

    As hard as this is to digest for all of you arm chair quarter backs. Think how much frustrated the people are that spent a career in this industry, preventing just this sort of crap from happening. What we are seeing from all feeds on all sites that I've been able to locate is nothing more than a collection of one liners. Why no cameras from the ships doing the pumping? why no check sheet on the mud properties? Why no histories on pressures, past and present? I've got 1/5 of a century spent on drilling and completion rigs and am seeing NO pertinent data. Typical government operation.

    May 28, 2010 at 11:36 am | Report abuse |
  15. James

    The oil field they are drilling is called the Maconndo oil field, from my understanding it holds about 100 millions barrels of oil.

    May 28, 2010 at 11:47 am | Report abuse |
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