Some oil spill events from Friday, May 28, 2010

A summary of events on Friday, May 28, Day 37 of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill that began with the April 20 explosion and fire 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 a rate of at least 210,000 gallons per day.


BP's chief executive cautioned Friday that it will be two more days before anyone knows if the latest fix attempt will stop the oil spewing into the sea. Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen said Friday the mud was able to push down the oil and gas coming up at great force from underground, but had not overwhelmed the gusher or stopped the flow.


President Barack Obama arrived on the Gulf Coast to tell residents they are not alone in dealing with the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. He inspected a fouled beach and pledged that the government would "keep at it" until the spill that has become the worst in U.S. history is stopped and cleaned up. He also had a message for Gulf residents. "I'm here to tell you that you are not alone, you will not be abandoned, you will not be left behind," he said. "The media may get tired of the story, but we will not. We will be on your side and we will see this through." Friday's trip was the president's second to the coast since the BP-leased oil rig Deepwater Horizon exploded April 20, killing 11 workers and triggering the spill.


BP said in a regulatory filing Friday that it has spent $930 million so far responding to the ruptured well, including costs for cleanup and prevention work, drilling relief wells, and paying grants to Gulf states, damage claims and federal costs. BP says it's too early to quantify other potential costs and liabilities.


As Americans grow more outraged by the spill, and frustrated at the fumbling efforts to stop it, President Barack Obama announced new steps to restrict drilling, including the suspension of planned exploratory drilling off the coasts of Alaska and Virginia and ordering a halt to 33 exploratory deep-water rigs in the Gulf of Mexico. From the Arctic Ocean to the Chesapeake Bay, the decision announced Thursday is stirring passions on both sides of the issue. Some politicians, especially in Virginia where lease sales scheduled for 2012 were canceled, are accusing Obama of a "knee-jerk" reaction that could bring to a halt to their expected economic boon from drilling. But many who make their living from Virginia's waters say Obama is right to tread carefully in the wake of the devastation in the Gulf.


President Barack Obama says he is ordering an increase in manpower in the Gulf Coast to deal with the massive oil spill. Obama says he will triple the manpower in places where oil has already hit the shore or is within 24 hours of doing so. The president says the increase will help contain the spill more quickly and minimize the amount of time oil is on the coastline.


Since last month's rig explosion and spill of millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, more than 3 million feet of so-called boom has been deployed along the coast. But it's not a fail-safe method of keeping the oil from washing ashore. It's not always sturdy enough and high winds and waves can send the slime cascading over the barriers. The key line of defense is sometimes defenseless itself against the elements. "Even if it's working properly, the best it will do is move the problem somewhere else," said Doug Helton, incident operations coordinator for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Emergency Response Division.


A thick, 22-mile plume of oil discovered by researchers off the BP spill site was nearing an underwater canyon, where it could poison the food chain for sea life in the waters off Florida. The discovery by researchers on the University of South Florida College of Marine Science's Weatherbird II vessel is the second significant undersea plume reported since the Deepwater Horizon exploded on April 20. The plume is more than 6 miles wide and its presence was reported Thursday. The cloud was nearing a large underwater canyon whose currents fuel the food chain in Gulf waters off Florida and could potentially wash the tiny plants and animals that feed larger organisms in a stew of toxic chemicals, another researcher said Friday.


An annual list of top 10 beaches released Friday includes two in Florida. The list's creator says he's not worried about pollution from the oil spill. Dr. Stephen Leatherman, director of Florida International University's Laboratory for Coastal Research, who is also known by the nickname Dr. Beach, included Siesta Beach in Sarasota and Cape Florida State Park in Key Biscayne, on his list of best beaches. He said Cape Florida, on the southeast coast, "doesn't get the wave activity" that can lead to tar balls washing up. As for Siesta Beach, he said he had looked at currents and believes "there's very low probability the oil will get to southwest Florida." The No. 1 beach on this year's list is Coopers Beach in Southampton, N.Y., on the east end of Long Island.