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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Jezebel.com.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
Here‚Äôs 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 fianc√©e 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 jailbreakme.com - 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‚Äôs on to rehab for the actress and singer.
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.
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 todaysbigthing.com, which today features a kid who wasn't thrilled with his trip to the zoo.