A summary of events on Saturday, June 5, Day 46 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.
A cap placed over the plume was collecting some of the oil gushing out at an estimated rate of about a half-million to a million gallons a day. The government's point man for the crisis, Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, said at a news briefing that the cap had collected about 252,000 gallons of oil in its first full 24 hours of use. The goal is to gradually raise the amount being captured, Allen said. The device's daily capacity is 630,000 gallons.
President Barack Obama said in his weekly radio and Internet address, recorded earlier during a visit to Grand Isle, La., that he will stand with Gulf Coast residents "until they are made whole." He spoke of the people he'd met, including an oysterman whose oyster beds have been destroyed and a shrimper who is losing income. He continued with his increasingly forceful tone toward BP PLC, saying: "We will make sure they pay every single dime owed to the people along the Gulf coast."
Beachgoers along the Gulf Coast were greeted by brown globs marking the high water line and driftwood and seashells glazed with rust-colored tar. In Gulf Shores, Ala., boardwalks leading to beachfront hotels were spotted with oil from people's feet, and some condominiums provided solvents for guests smeared with the goo. At Pensacola Beach, Fla., the retreating high tide left an orange stain in its wake. Alabama Gov. Bob Riley said he would consider closing beaches if the oil becomes a public health threat.
Images of oil-coated pelicans and other birds tugged at the heartstrings and wallets of Americans, as officials tried to get a handle on just how much wildlife is being killed or threatened by the spill, which is affecting sensitive marshlands. More than 500 birds have been found dead across the region, according to a federal tally released Friday, but the cause of death was not known for all the birds. More than 200 sea turtles and 30 mammals have also been found dead.
BP continued to take hits over its response to the spill. Erin Tamber, who moved near Pensacola Beach, Fla., after surviving Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, said she feared for dying wildlife. "I'm so angry about what is happening," she said. "I'm angry at BP and their attitude about this environment," she said. In Florida, a minor league baseball team, the Brevard County Manatees, said it was changing the name of its batting practice so players would no longer have to utter the phrase "BP." It will now be called "hitting rehearsal."