A summary of events on Sunday, June 6, Day 47 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.
The cap placed over the plume began collecting a larger portion of the oil gushing out at an estimated rate of about a half-million to a million gallons a day, officials said. It trapped about 441,000 gallons Saturday, BP spokesman Mark Proegler said, up from around 250,000 gallons the day before. The goal is to gradually raise the amount being captured.
Tiny tar balls began washing up at Fort Walton Beach, Fla., over the weekend, marking the farthest east the oil has been detected. Okaloosa County Public Safety Director Dino Villani said lifeguards on Saturday's first patrol found a "very minor" set of fingernail-size tar balls on the western edge of Okaloosa Island.
The disaster will persist "well into the fall," Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen said on CBS' "Face the Nation." The spill will not be considered contained until the leak at the bottom of the Gulf is fully plugged, he said, and even after that, "there will be oil out there for months to come."
Some tourists along the coast reported a dearth of cleanup crews, though there was a presence at many beaches. "We're going to clean up the oil, we're going to remediate any environmental damage and we are going to return the Gulf coast to the position it was in prior to this event," BP chief executive Tony Hayward told the BBC.
More than half the federal judges in districts where the bulk of lawsuits related to the oil spill are pending have financial connections to the oil and gas industry, complicating the task of finding judges without conflicts to hear the cases, an Associated Press analysis of judicial financial disclosure reports showed.
Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour lamented the heavy news coverage of the spill, telling "Fox News Sunday" that it's giving the impression that "the whole coast from Florida to Texas is ankle-deep in oil" and is hurting tourism. He said there is very little oil coming ashore in Mississippi and encouraged people to "come on down."
BP has paid 18,000 claims along the Gulf Coast totaling more than $48 million, said Darryl Willis, the corporate vice president overseeing the claims process. The company has received 37,000 claims so far. The unpaid claims are still being processed and none have been denied, he said. "We'll pay until we're done paying," he said.