Jun 4, 2010 9:49 AM by Sharlee Barriere
GRAND ISLE, La. (AP) - BP reported some oil was flowing up a
pipe Friday from a cap it wrestled onto its broken Gulf of Mexico
well but crude still spewed and it was unclear how much could be
captured in the latest bid to tame the nation's worst oil spill.
President Barack Obama was set to visit the Louisiana coast
Friday, his second trip in a week and the third since the disaster
unfolded following an April 20 oil rig explosion.
Meanwhile, waves of gooey tar blobs were washing ashore on the
white sand of the Florida Panhandle and nearby Alabama beaches
Friday as a slick from the spill moved closer to shore.
Spotters who had been seeing a few tar balls in recent days
found a substantially larger number starting before dawn on the
beaches of the Gulf Islands National Seashore and nearby areas, a
county emergency official said. The park is a long string of
connected barrier islands near Pensacola.
The government's point man for the crisis, Coast Guard Adm. Thad
Allen, said the cap's installation atop a severed pipe late
Thursday was a positive development but it was too early to tell if
will work. The funnel-like lid is designed to channel oil for
pumping to a surface tanker.
"Even if successful, this is only a temporary and partial fix
and we must continue our aggressive response operations at the
source, on the surface and along the Gulf's precious coastline,"
Allen said in a statement.
BP's Chief Operating Officer Doug Suttles said it will be later
in the day before they know how much is being captured.
"There is flow coming up the pipe. Just now, I don't know the
exact rate," Suttles said.
Robots a mile beneath the Gulf positioned the lid over the main
pipe on the leaking well Thursday night. Live video footage,
though, showed that the oil seemed unimpeded.
To put the cap in place, BP had to slice off the pipe with giant
shears after a diamond-edged saw became stuck.
Suttles said some of the oil still pouring out came from vents
deliberately placed to keep icelike crystals from forming that
could block the funnel. BP will try to close those four vents in
succession and reduce the spill, he said.
If the idea fails - like every other attempt to control the
six-week-old leak - the best chance is probably a relief well,
which is at least two months away. The well has spit out between 21
million and 46 million gallons of oil since a rig exploded on April
20 about 50 miles from the Louisiana coast, killing 11 workers. BP
was leasing the rig and is responsible to fix and clean up the
In oil-soaked Grand Isle, Jason French might as well have
painted a bulls-eye on his back. His mission was to be BP's
representative at a meeting for 50 or so residents who had gathered
at a church to vent.
"We are all angry and frustrated," he said. "Feel free
tonight to let me see that anger. Direct it at me, direct it at BP,
but I want to assure you, the folks in this community, that we are
working hard to remedy the situation."
Residents weren't buying it.
"Sorry doesn't pay the bills," said Susan Felio Price, a
"Through the negligence of BP we now find ourselves trying to
roller-skate up a mountain," she said. "We're growing really
weary. We're tired. We're sick and tired of being sick and tired.
Someone's got to help us get to the top of that mountain."
President Barack Obama shared some of that anger ahead of his
Gulf visit. He told CNN's Larry King that he was frustrated and
used his strongest language in assailing BP.
"I am furious at this entire situation because this is an
example where somebody didn't think through the consequences of
their actions," Obama said. "This is imperiling an entire way of
life and an entire region for potentially years."
Meanwhile, newly disclosed internal Coast Guard documents from
the day after the explosion aboard the Deepwater Horizon rig
indicated that U.S. officials were warning of a leak of 336,000
gallons per day of crude from the well in the event of a complete
The volume turned out to be much closer to that figure than the
42,000 gallons per day that BP first estimated. Weeks later that
was revised to 210,000 gallons. Now, an estimated 500,000 to 1
million gallons of crude is believed to be leaking daily.
The Center for Public Integrity, which initially reported the
Coast Guard logs, said it obtained them from Rep. Darrell Issa,
R-Calif., ranking Republican on the House Oversight and Government
The logs also showed early in the disaster that remote
underwater robots were unable to activate the rig's blowout
preventer, which was supposed to shut off the flow from the well in
the event of such a catastrophic failure.
The damage to the environment was chilling on East Grand Terre
Island along the Louisiana coast, where workers found birds coated
in thick, black goo. Images shot by an Associated Press
photographer show Brown pelicans drenched in thick oil, struggling
and flailing in the surf.
BP CEO Tony Hayward promised that the company would clean up
every drop of oil and "restore the shoreline to its original
"BP will be here for a very long time. We realize this is just
the beginning," he said.
Those on Grand Isle seemed less than convinced by BP's
"We want you to feel what we feel," said Leoda Bladsacker, a
member of the town's council, as her voice trembled. "We're not
going to be OK for a long, long time."