August 23rd, 2010
02:08 PM ET

Independent agency takes over Gulf claims payments

The Gulf Coast Claims Facility "is fully functioning and will begin to process claims for emergency payment," according to a Monday press

The independent agency, headed by attorney Kenneth Feinberg - who
handled the 9/11 victims' compensation fund - was established in June as part of an agreement between the Obama administration and BP to facilitate processing of the personal and business claims from those affected by the Gulf oil disaster stemming from the Deepwater Horizon explosion on April 20.

BP said last week that it was no longer accepting claims as the
transition to the new entity was taking place. The oil giant, which said it has paid hundreds of millions of dollars in claims so far, will continue to handle claims put in by government entities.


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Filed under: BP • Gulf Coast Oil Spill
August 19th, 2010
08:11 PM ET

Researchers say they saw 22-mile plume in Gulf

Scientists at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution said they detected a plume of hydrocarbons in June that was at least 22 miles long and more than 3,000 feet below the surface of the Gulf of Mexico, a residue of the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

According to the institution, the 1.2-mile-wide, 650-foot-high plume of trapped hydrocarbons provides at least a partial answer to recent questions asking where all the oil has gone as surface slicks shrink and disappear.

"These results indicate that efforts to book-keep where the oil went must now include this plume" in the Gulf, said Christopher Reddy, a Woods Hole marine geochemist and oil spill expert. He is one of the authors of the study, which appears in the Aug. 19 issue of the journal Science.


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Filed under: BP
August 19th, 2010
10:31 AM ET

Allen: 'Bottom kill' could be complete by week after Labor Day

If all goes as planned, the "bottom kill" operation to permanently plug the ruptured underwater well in the Gulf of Mexico should be complete by the week after Labor Day, Thad Allen, the government's point man for the oil disaster, told CNN Thursday.

In the last 48 hours, a sequence of actions has been agreed upon, Allen told CNN's "American Morning." Those include flushing out the current blowout preventer, looking for material that may cause a problem, then put a new blowout preventer on and conduct the "bottom kill" operation.

"This will ensure that we can withstand any pressures that may be generated," Allen said. "If all that lines up, we should be looking at the week after Labor Day."


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Filed under: BP • Gulf Coast Oil Spill
August 18th, 2010
10:53 AM ET

On the Radar: Dr. Laura, kids' deaths, Blagojevich verdict

Dr. Laura to call it quits - Embattled radio talk-show host Dr. Laura Schlessinger says she will not renew her contract that is up at the end of the year, telling CNN's "Larry King Live" she wants to "regain my First Amendment rights."

Schlessinger, 63, has been under fire for using the N-word repeatedly during an on-air conversation last week with a caller.


August 18th, 2010
09:48 AM ET

BP to stop handling most Gulf claims

BP has picked Wednesday as the deadline for accepting claims from people and businesses affected by the Gulf oil disaster.

After that, the oil giant will direct people to the Gulf Coast Claims Facility, led by attorney Kenneth Feinberg.

"Effective August 23, GCCF will be the only authorized organization managing business and individual claims related to the Deepwater Horizon Incident," the British energy giant said in a statement.


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August 17th, 2010
11:59 AM ET

Scientists: Toxic organisms, oil found on Gulf floor

John Paul says, at first, he couldn't believe his own scientific data showing toxic microscopic marine organisms in the Gulf of Mexico. He repeated the field test. A colleague did his own test. All the results came back the same: toxic.

It was the first time Paul and other University of South Florida scientists had made such a finding since they started investigating the environmental damage from the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The preliminary results, the scientists believe, show that oil that has settled on the floor is contaminating small sea organisms.

Paul is a marine microbiologist with the University of South Florida. He and 13 other researchers were in the middle of a 10-day research mission that began August 6 in the Gulf of Mexico when they made the toxic discovery.


August 16th, 2010
04:02 PM ET

Permanent fix on hold for ruptured Gulf oil well

The permanent stifling of the ruptured Gulf of Mexico oil well won't start until the latest potential problem is evaluated, Thad Allen, the government's point man in the Gulf, said Monday.

The "timelines won't be known until we get a recommendation on the course of action," he said.

Allen told reporters that when it comes to giving a green light to the "bottom kill" of the well through the nearby relief well, "nobody wants to make that declaration any more than I do," but the process "will not start until we figure out how to manage the risk of pressure in the annulus."

The annulus is a ring that surrounds the casing pipe, which sits in the center of the well shaft. Unless the annulus is breached, it should be accessible only from the bottom of the well.

Scientists began new pressure tests last week to gauge the effects of the mud and cement poured into the well from above during the static kill procedure that started August 3 and ended a few days later. From those pressure readings, they believe that either some of the cement breached the casing pipe and leaked into the annulus or cement came up into the annulus from the bottom.


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Filed under: BP • Gulf Coast Oil Spill
August 14th, 2010
01:29 PM ET

Obama: Gulf beaches 'clean, safe and open for business'

On his fifth visit to the Gulf Coast since the start of the BP oil disaster, President Obama on Saturday reminded Americans that the cleanup effort has been successful and that the region's beaches "are clean, safe and open for business."
"That's one of the reasons Michelle, Sasha, and I are here," Obama said
in Panama City, Florida.


August 12th, 2010
02:35 PM ET

Work on relief well resumes as storm dissipates

The dissipation of Tropical Depression Five in the Gulf of Mexico means that preparations are being made to resume drilling of a relief well intended to permanently seal BP's ruptured deepwater oil well.

Earlier, officials had said the storm would stall the crucial work for about four days.

As is currently stands, the Development Driller III, the rig that is drilling the relief well, is cleaning the area out ahead of drilling the remaining 30 to 50 feet to reach the Macondo well, BP spokesman Robert Wine said.


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August 12th, 2010
02:20 PM ET

BP to pay $50 million fine for fatal explosion in Texas

BP says it has agreed to pay a $50.6 million fine to settle some of the
citations related to the 2005 explosion at the Texas City, Texas,
refinery that killed 15 people.

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Filed under: BP • Environment • Oil disaster solutions
August 10th, 2010
02:12 PM ET

Tropical weather delays Gulf well-killing operations 2 to 3 days

Drilling on the final 30 feet of a relief well expected to intercept the crippled oil well in the Gulf of Mexico has been suspended
because of a tropical disturbance in the region, the government's national incident commander said Tuesday.

The weather may delay the process by two to three days, said retired Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen.

He said that would push the interception date - which had been expected Thursday or Friday - to sometime between Sunday and next Tuesday, weather permitting, at which point crews could begin the "bottom kill" procedure to permanently cement the well.


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August 9th, 2010
03:31 PM ET

WebPulse: Vogue's oil, HP's actress, Moscow's smog

Vogue Italia's spread evokes the Gulf oil spill.

Fashion or offensive? - What does an oil-drenched supermodel blowing black feathers out of her mouth mean? Controversy, baby.

Vogue has apparently attempted to interpret the BP oil spill. A spread called "Water & Oil" in Vogue Italia has hit the stands and struck a chord. Some call it insulting, others deem it high art. A video shows famous photographer Steven Meisel capturing a gunk-covered Kristen McMenamy lying like a dead bird on black rocks. Newsweek doubts the tastefulness of the spread.  Forbes reminds of Vogue's previous stabs at political art. Miami New Times says Vogue is out of line, while The Huffington Post writes that the pics are beautiful.

Which Jodie, again? - No, this isn't about actress Jodie Foster. Stop making that mistake. We're going to tell you about actress Jodie Fisher, the woman whose sexual harassment claim led to HP CEO Mark Hurd's downfall last week. Fisher had been employed as a contractor for HP working on customer and executive events. She and Hurd, who is married, both say they didn't have sex. The company maintains that Hurd, a major figure in corporate America, did not violate its sexual harassment policy, but that he violated its standards of conduct policy. HP says Hurd filed inaccurate expense account reports to keep his relationship with Fisher secret. Hurd probably won't starve. He walked away with $12 million in severance. Fisher, on the other hand, is having her acting chops examined on

Moscow smog - The pictures say it all: It's hell to be in Moscow, which is choked with smog, toxic gases and smoke from wildfires. The mortality rate in Russia's capital has doubled, according to the head of the city's health department. Out of 1,500 slots in city morgues, 1,300 are occupied, the official said. A CNN iReporter who fashioned a face mask out of a dish towel and coat hanger takes viewers on a tour through the city. He got crafty out of desperation; there's been a run on conventional face masks.

August 9th, 2010
10:49 AM ET

'One more run' for relief well before moving in for kill, Allen says

The disaster of epic proportions in the Gulf of Mexico still is on track to be resolved at the end of this week, according to the federal point man in the region.

Now, the solution lies in precision calculations of minute proportion, retired Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen said Monday.

Allen said the closer of two relief wells alongside the capped, formerly gushing BP well in the Gulf was 17,909 feet deep and less than 100 feet from intercepting the main well. Over the previous 72 to 96 hours, he said, crews had twice drilled for 30 feet at a time, then backed out and put wire down the pipe to gauge the exact location relative to the main well.


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Filed under: BP • Gulf Coast Oil Spill
August 9th, 2010
09:56 AM ET

On the Radar: Gitmo trial and blood diamonds

Gitmo trial - A Canadian who is the youngest detainee at Guantanamo Bay is set to go to trial this week. Now 23, Omar Khadr was a teen when he was captured on the battlefield in Afghanistan and accused of killing of a U.S. Special Forces soldier. The case has divided those who believe Khadr, who once considered Osama bin Laden a grandfather figure, would be a danger if released and those who perceive him as an innocent who got wrapped up in a terrorist cause he didn't fully comprehend. A Pentagon-appointed lawyer is representing Khadr. It's unclear if the prisoner will actively participate in his defense.

Missourians travel to Gulf Coast - While the worst oil spill in U.S. history is over, its effects will be felt for a long time. A caravan from Missouri will head south to boost businesses that the BP oil spill has hurt. The caravan raised money from donations across the nation and will spend the cash while traveling across the Gulf Coast.

Obama talks education - Monday afternoon in Austin, Texas, President Obama will outline his plan for the U.S. to have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world by 2020. America will need to increase graduates by more than 10 million over the next 10 years to make that happen, according to the administration.

Blood diamonds - Actress Mia Farrow's testimony has contradicted that of supermodel Naomi Campbell in the war crimes trial of former Liberian President Charles Taylor. Taylor allegedly gave Campbell a diamond after a 1997 dinner party in South Africa at which Farrow, Taylor and the model were guests. Prosecutors say Taylor paid for  a brutal civil war in Sierra Leone using blood diamonds, which are mined in war zones and used to fund rebels and warlords. The stones have fueled bloody conflicts in Africa for more than a decade. Farrow said Campbell told her Taylor gave her a diamond. But Campbell testified last week that she had no idea who had given her the diamond.

August 4th, 2010
03:34 AM ET

'Static kill' appears to be working on Gulf leak, BP says

A long-awaited procedure to permanently seal BP's crippled well in the Gulf of Mexico appears to be working and is being monitored, the oil giant announced early Wednesday.

The well-killing procedure, which began Tuesday afternoon, involves pumping heavy drilling mud down from above to push oil back into the well reservoir.

"The well pressure is now being controlled by the hydrostatic pressure of the drilling mud, the desired outcome of the static kill procedure," a BP statement said. "The pumping of heavy drilling mud was stopped after about eight hours of pumping drilling mud down the well. The well is now being monitored, per the procedure, to ensure the well remains static."


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Filed under: BP • Gulf Coast Oil Spill
August 3rd, 2010
11:07 AM ET

Leak fixed on oil well cap; 'static kill' test can begin

A leak on the new cap on the ruptured well in the Gulf of Mexico has been fixed, paving the way for a test to determine whether the "static kill" operation can be conducted, a BP official said on Tuesday.

The static kill maneuver involves pumping heavy mud into the well through the cap on the well's riser at the ocean floor.

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Filed under: BP • Gulf Coast Oil Spill
August 2nd, 2010
04:27 PM ET

Newspulse: Celeb nuptials, oil spill, iPhone 'jailbreak,' Lohan

Here’s a quick glance at the collective consciousness of the Web on Monday:

Putting a ring on it: It was quite the celebrity wedding weekend, with former first daughter Chelsea Clinton marrying longtime beau Marc Mezvinsky in a lavish ceremony in Rhinebeck, New York. (After midnight, late-night munchies stole the show.) Recording artist Alicia Keys married hip-hop producer Swizz Beatz at a private residence overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. Atlanta rapper T.I. married longtime fiancée Tiny Cottle in a glitzy soiree in Miami Beach, Florida.

Gulf oil disaster: The spill continued to make news Monday, with the dispersants used by BP coming under increased scrutiny. The Environmental Protection Agency said tests prove that the oil, not the dispersants, remain "the No. 1 enemy." The oil disaster seems to have leaked into the real estate market as well. For many residents, discovery of oil on their land used to mean guaranteed big bucks (Black gold? Texas tea?). But because of the spill, waterfront residents say home sales may be especially cruddy. In fact, the BP oil spill could cost homeowners $68 million in lost property value over the next year, according to a report released Monday.

#jailbreak: The iPhone 4 ‚Äújailbreak,‚ÄĚ finally legal, is getting a lot of clicks. The hack - available at - installs a program that lets iPhone 4 owners and others purchase apps from stores other than Apple's. But be careful! It's still a risky proposition.

Lindsay's out: Speaking of jail, Lindsay Lohan has been released from prison after 13 days in the pokey. It’s on to rehab for the actress and singer.

August 2nd, 2010
12:06 PM ET

Testing to precede 'static kill' maneuver in Gulf

One of two efforts to seal the ruptured BP oil well in the Gulf of Mexico once and for all is set to take place Tuesday, after a crucial test is conducted Monday to determine whether it will work, BP's senior vice president told reporters.

In the "injectivity" test, a substance called "base oil" will be pumped
into the ruptured well bore to determine if it will go back into the reservoir,
Kent Wells said Monday. The test will start with pumping one barrel per minute, then two, then three. How much is pumped will depend on how the test goes, Wells said.

"We would expect to have the test done in a few hours," he said, and then
the data will be analyzed. The information will tell officials whether
adjustments need to be made on "how and if" the "static kill" procedure will
take place Tuesday, he said.


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Filed under: BP • Gulf Coast Oil Spill
August 2nd, 2010
10:14 AM ET

On the Radar: Beginning of oil's end?

End of the oil? We might be at the end of a chapter in the long saga of the BP oil spill, which began April 20. Officials say that on Monday night they'll begin the first of two efforts to seal the ruptured well in the Gulf of Mexico. The "static kill" will happen first, followed five to seven days later by a "bottom kill."  BP's CEO Doug Suttles says he's "confident" these techniques will do the trick, but federal officials caution that nothing is guaranteed.

"We should not be writing any obituary for this event," said Thad Allen, the retired Coast Guard admiral who heads the government's response to the spill.

U.S. Iraq drawdown - According to a prepared speech President Obama is expected to give in Georgia, U.S. troops in Iraq will be reduced by 50,000 by the end of August. The U.S. military mission in Iraq will switch from combat to a support role in Iraq, including training of Iraqi national security forces, the speech says. Want to see a breakdown of U.S. resources in Iraq?  Read CNN's Security Brief.

The U.S. and Iraq disagree on the level of violence in the war-torn country. While the U.S. military reports that bloodshed has decreased, data Iraq released Saturday indicates that July was the deadliest month for civilians since May 2008. Specifically, Iraq says 396 civilians, 50 Iraqi soldiers and 89 police officers were killed last month.

In July, there were 81,000 U.S. troops in Iraq and 87,000 in Afghanistan.

Pakistan disaster - Flooding in Pakistan has killed more than 1,100 people, government officials tell CNN. At least 30,000 people were stuck on rooftops and other higher areas as they tried to escape rushing floodwaters. "We've got the government sending boats and helicopters to try to reach people and bring them to safety at the same time as trying to deliver emergency relief," said Nicki Bennett, a senior humanitarian affairs officer for the U.N.

C'mon, get happy! - After all that seriousness for your Monday morning, how about some good news? Yes, we said good news - or at least several websites that will make you feel better this week. Try a site that compiles happy news, or, which today features a kid who wasn't thrilled with his trip to the zoo.

August 1st, 2010
02:23 AM ET

Documents: Dispersants used excessively in Gulf

New documents released by a congressional subcommittee indicate that Coast Guard officials allowed BP to use excessive amounts of chemical dispersants in the Gulf of Mexico.


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