May 6, 2010 4:01 PM by Melissa Canone

Day 17 of The Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill

By The Associated Press
Events May 6, Day 17 of a Gulf of Mexico oil spill that began
with an explosion and fire on April 20 on the drilling rig
Deepwater Horizon, owned by Transocean Ltd. and leased by BP PLC,
which is in charge of cleanup and containment. The blast killed 11
workers. Since then, oil has been pouring into the Gulf from a
blown-out undersea well at about 210,000 gallons per day. The slick
threatens the U.S. coastline.

Oil washed up Thursday on at least two barrier islands in the
Chandeleur Islands chain off Louisiana. The pinkish oily substance
lapped at the shore of New Harbor Island, washing into thick marsh
grass. It looked like soggy cornflakes, possibly because it was
mixed with chemicals that it had been sprayed to break it up before
it reached land. The uninhabited islands are part of a national
wildlife refuge and provide an important nesting ground for sea

Crews prepared to lower a 100-ton concrete-and-steel box they
hoped would cut off most of the crude spewing from a blown-out well
in the Gulf of Mexico. If it works, it could collect as much as 85
percent of the oil leaking from the ocean floor. Other crews are
drilling a relief well to take the pressure off the blown-out well.
That could take up to three months.

Skimmer boats continued to slurp up oil while shrimp boats
pulling booms instead of nets gathered smaller amounts. Two pairs
of boats attached at either end of two lengths of fireproof boom
corralled some of the thickest oil to burn it. The Coast Guard said
that on Wednesday, good weather allowed 18 flights to drop 150,000
gallons of chemical dispersant; crews skimmed 588,000 gallons of
oily water, and conducted five controlled burns.

The owner of the rig that exploded in the Gulf of Mexico said
Thursday its contract with BP should protect it from lawsuits by
fishermen, hotel owners and other businesses damaged by the massive
oil spill. Transocean Ltd. CEO Steven Newman said the company won't
be held liable for "any expense or claim related to pollution"
from the well.

The chief executive of BP PLC says the oil leak in the Gulf of
Mexico will be stopped, but gives no estimate of when that might
happen or how much it will ultimately cost. Tony Hayward said in an
interview with the BBC broadcast Thursday that it was too early to
judge the cost of stopping the leak, mopping up the oil and
compensating people for damages.

The attorneys general of four southern states threatened by the
oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico asked President Obama for federal
help in preparing damage assessments. Alabama, Mississippi,
Florida, Louisiana and Texas sent a letter Thursday to the
president and Attorney General Eric Holder.
A federal judicial panel in Washington has been asked to
consolidate at least 65 potential class-action lawsuits claiming
economic damage from the Gulf oil spill.
Shrimpers, commercial fishermen, business and resort owners,
charter boat captains and even would-be vacationers have filed
lawsuits from Texas to Florida since the April 20 oil rig disaster.
They seek damages possibly in the billions of dollars from oil
giant BP PLC, rig owner Transocean Ltd. and other companies. The
companies won't comment.

Commerce Secretary Gary Locke says his agency is working to
assure the public that seafood from the Gulf of Mexico is safe.
Locke also says that applies to Gulf seafood already in grocery
stores and in restaurants. He said Thursday that part of the Gulf
has been closed to fishing to send a signal that any seafood
harvested from the Gulf is safe.

While people anxiously wait for the mess to wash up along the
coast, globules of oil are already falling to the bottom of the
sea, where they threaten virtually every link in the ocean food
chain, from plankton to fish that are on dinner tables everywhere.
Hail-size gobs of oil with the consistency of tar or asphalt will
roll around the bottom, while other bits will get trapped hundreds
of feet below the surface and move with the current, said Robert S.
Carney, a Louisiana State University oceanographer.

Louisiana's secretary of wildlife and fisheries has arranged to
credential out-of-state veterinary specialists to help rescue oiled
birds and animals. The Department of Wildlife and Fisheries says
veterinarians from Delaware, California and Alaska have already
volunteered. It says the state Board of Veterinary Medicine agreed
to grant emergency waivers for veterinarians who have treated oiled
animals such as birds, dolphins, whales and sea turtles.

Scientists are watching carefully to see whether the slick will
hitch a ride to the East Coast by way of a powerful eddy known as
the "loop current," which could send the spill around Florida and
into the Atlantic Ocean. If that happens, the oil could foul
beaches and kill marine life on the East Coast.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano warns that the oil
spill in the Gulf of Mexico is a long-term event. Napolitano said
Thursday during a visit to Biloxi that she doesn't think the spill
will be over soon. She says she hopes the device being deployed to
cap the spewing well is successful, but officials are still
planning for the worst.

The Obama administration is offering low-interest loans to
businesses in parts of the Gulf Coast that have suffered financial
losses from the massive oil spill. The Small Business
Administration says the loans will be available immediately to
businesses along the Louisiana coast, as well as in some counties
in Mississippi.

The National Guard is building a 300-foot temporary wharf at a
St. Bernard marina, to be used to load booms and supplies onto
boats. Sgt. Denis Ricou says the 2225th Multi-Role Bridge Company,
205th Engineer Battalion is launching bridge erection boats and
float ribbon bridge sets at Campo's Marina.

Government officials are being inundated with homespun remedies
to prevent the nightmare scenario of oil washing up all over the
Gulf Coast. More than 3,500 suggestions have come in by phone and
e-mail. Ideas range from the goofy - putting a cork in the
blown-out well - to the possible. One business plans to demonstrate
a product that shoots a carbon dioxide solution from guns to freeze
parts of the slick, which could then be scooped up and refined.


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