A summary of events on Monday, May 31, Day 40 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.
MYSTERIES OF THE DEEP
Independent scientists and government officials say there's a disaster we can't see in the Gulf of Mexico's mysterious depths, the ruin of a world inhabited by enormous sperm whales and tiny, invisible plankton. Researchers say they've found at least two massive underwater plumes of what appears to be oil, each hundreds of feet deep and stretching for miles. Yet the chief executive of BP PLC — which has for weeks downplayed everything from the amount of oil spewing into the Gulf to the environmental impact — said there is "no evidence" that huge amounts of oil are suspended undersea.
A congressman is questioning BP CEO Tony Hayward's claim that the oil company has not found evidence of underwater oil plumes. Scientists have reported plumes as long as 22 miles.
Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass., said BP in this instance means "Blind to Plumes." He sent a letter to Hayward on Monday asking for documents to back up his claims.
Markey, chairman of a House Energy and Commerce Committee environmental panel, said it is vital that the government and researchers have unfettered access to all relevant data or analysis concerning underwater plumes. He also called on BP to offer "complete transparency" on its video feeds from the company's underwater operations, calling any delay or other obstacle unacceptable.
U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer says he will introduce a bill to repeal a law that could allow the owner of the oil drilling rig that sank in the Gulf of Mexico to limit its liability for the disaster to $27 million. Schumer called it "outrageous" that the company could "get away with paying mere pennies of the total cost of clean-up" of the massive oil spill in the Gulf. Schumer said he will introduce the legislation Tuesday.
Tourists along the Gulf coast are enjoying the beaches despite the nation's worst oil spill. tourism officials from Mississippi to Florida have fought the perception that oil has come ashore, and hotels have offered lower rates and other incentives to vacationers. Though some tar balls have been found on Mississippi and Alabama barrier islands, oil from the spill has not significantly fouled the shores.