A summary of events on Wednesday, June 9, Day 50 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.
Equipment collecting the oil and bringing it to the surface is believed to be nearing its daily processing capacity. A floating platform could be the solution to process most of the flow, BP said. The British oil giant is preparing to burn some, using a device called an EverGreen Burner, officials said. Its 12 nozzles turn a flow of oil and gas into a fog that can be burned without visible smoke.
Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen has written to BP CEO Tony Hayward demanding "more detail and openness" about how the company is handling mounting damage claims from the Gulf Coast oil spill. Allen reminded Hayward in the letter dated Tuesday that the company is accountable and has accepted responsibility for economic loss caused by the spill. But he said BP is failing to provide "information we need to meet our responsibilities to our citizens."
Speaking to network news shows Wednesday morning, BP Chief Operating Officer Doug Suttles continued to insist that no massive underwater oil plumes in "large concentrations" have been detected from the spill. His comments came a day after the government said water tests confirmed underwater oil plumes, but that concentrations were low.
Professor Peter Lutz is listed in BP's 2009 response plan for a Gulf of Mexico oil spill as a national wildlife expert. He died in 2005. Under the heading "sensitive biological resources," the plan lists marine mammals including walruses, sea otters, sea lions and seals. None lives anywhere near the Gulf. The names and phone numbers of several Texas A&M University marine life specialists are wrong. So are the numbers for marine mammal stranding network offices in Louisiana and Florida, which are no longer in service. BP PLC's 582-page regional spill plan for the Gulf, and its 52-page, site-specific plan for the Deepwater Horizon rig are riddled with omissions and glaring errors, according to an Associated Press analysis that details how BP officials have pretty much been making it up as they go along. The plans approved by the federal government last year vastly understate the dangers posed by an uncontrolled leak and vastly overstate the company's preparedness to deal with one.
The government's ban on deepwater petroleum drilling in the Gulf of Mexico is challenged by a Louisiana petroleum service company. Hornbeck Offshore Services Inc. filed a federal lawsuit in New Orleans claiming there is no legal justification for the six-month moratorium. Hornbeck's vessel fleet hauls people and supplies to offshore drilling rigs and production platforms.
President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats are trying to prevent a political disaster along with the environmental one taking place in the Gulf of Mexico as they try to convince Americans frustrated by the ongoing oil spill that BP and Republican coziness with the oil industry are to blame. Within a few hours Tuesday, the White House said Obama would visit the Gulf Coast again next week, while House Speaker Nancy Pelosi set a strict deadline for new oil spill legislation. Obama's fourth oil spill-related visit will be a two-day trip Monday and Tuesday to receive updates in Mississippi, Alabama and Florida.