2010-05-21 11:50:34 UTC
President Billy Nungesser said after touring the clogged marshes.
A month in, outrage over Gulf oil spill grows
By KEVIN McGILL and VICKI SMITH, Associated Press Writers
GRAND ISLE, La. Thick, sticky oil crept deeper into delicate marshes
of the Mississippi Delta, an arrival dreaded for a month since the
crude started spewing into the Gulf, as anger and frustration mounted
over efforts to plug the gusher from a blown-out well and contain the
Up to now, only tar balls and a sheen of oil had come ashore. But
chocolate brown and vivid orange globs and sheets of foul-smelling oil
the consistency of latex paint have begun coating the reeds and
grasses of Louisiana's wetlands, home to rare birds, mammals and a
rich variety of marine life.
With each passing day, outrage grows. State and local officials say
the federal government isn't doing enough. President Barack Obama
faults the agency that oversees offshore drilling. Republicans say the
Coast Guard and the administration should have done more.
A deep, stagnant ooze sat in the middle of a particularly devastated
marsh off the Louisiana coast where Emily Guidry Schatzel of the
National Wildlife Federation was examining stained reeds.
"This is just heartbreaking," she said with a sigh. "I can't believe
Fingers are also pointing at BP PLC, not only for the April 20
explosion of the Deepwater Horizon rig and the deaths of 11 workers,
but for the gusher of oil that flowed entirely uncontained until this
past weekend. The company, which was leasing the rig, conceded
Thursday what some scientists have been saying for weeks: More oil is
flowing from the leak than BP and the Coast Guard had previously
"It's anger at the people who are supposed to be driving the ship
don't have any idea what's going on," said E.J. Boles, 55, a musician
from Big Pine Key, Fla. "Why wouldn't they have any contingency plan?
I'm not a genius and even I would have thought of that."
A live video feed of the underwater gusher, posted online after
lawmakers exerted pressure on BP, is sure to fuel the anger.
It shows what appears to be a large plume of oil and gas still spewing
into the water next to the stopper-and-tube combination that BP
inserted to carry some of the crude to the surface. The House
committee website where the video was posted promptly crashed because
so many people were trying to view it.
"I think now we're beginning to understand that we cannot trust BP,"
said U.S. Rep. Edward J. Markey, D-Mass. "BP has lost all credibility
... It's clear that they have been hiding the actual consequences of
At least 6 million gallons have gushed into the Gulf since the
explosion, more than half of what the Exxon Valdez tanker spilled in
Alaska in 1989. A growing number of scientists believe it's more.
BP spokesman Mark Proegler told The Associated Press that the
mile-long tube inserted into a leaking pipe over the weekend is
capturing 210,000 gallons of oil a day the total amount the company
and the Coast Guard have estimated is gushing into the sea but some
is still escaping. He would not say how much.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said a team
including scientists is working on a new estimate of how much oil is
gushing from the well. Agency officials would not speculate on how big
the leak might be.
Washington, meanwhile, has turned up the pressure on BP.
The Obama administration asked the company to be more open with the
public by sharing such information as measurements of the leak and the
trajectory of the spill. BP has been accused of covering up the
magnitude of the disaster.
Also, the Environmental Protection Agency directed BP to employ a less
toxic form of the chemical dispersants it has been using to break up
the oil and keep it from reaching the surface.
BP is marshaling equipment for an attempt as early as Sunday at a "top
kill," which involves pumping heavy mud into the top of the blown-out
well to try to plug the gusher.
If it doesn't work, the backup plans include a "junk shot" shooting
golf balls, shredded tires, knotted rope and other material into the
well to clog it up.
"We're now looking at a scenario where response plans include lighting
the ocean on fire, pouring potent chemicals into the water, and using
trash and human hair to stop the flow of oil," said Michael Brune,
executive director of the Sierra Club, in a letter to Obama calling
for a formal moratorium on new offshore drilling permits. "If this is
the backup plan, we need to rethink taking the risk in the first
Lawmakers including Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., wonder why the company
has to invent remedies on the fly.
"Shouldn't you have thought of a worst-case scenario and prepared for
it and had this type of technology from day one?" Cohen asked BP
America President Lamar McKay during a hearing.
He's not the only one with questions.
In New York, a morning show anchor pressed U.S. Secretary of the
Interior Ken Salazar to accept responsibility; he didn't. In London,
activists strung a banner at BP headquarters, rechristening the oil
company, "BP, British Polluters." And on Facebook, tens of thousands
join groups with names such as "I demand to know how much of BP's oil
is in the Gulf."
Ask Vincent Creel, spokesman for the city of Biloxi, Miss., about the
spill and his words nearly spew, like a leak he can't control. The oil
hasn't hit shore here, he says, but it overshadows everything,
including a major golf tournament. It is an economic and PR nightmare.
"It's staying out at sea so far," he said, "and yet it's bringing doom
to our shores."
Patience was wearing thin among state and local officials who called
on Obama to take a larger role in the fight against oil invading the
"We've given BP enough time," said Jefferson Parish Councilman John
"Everything in that marsh is dead as we speak," Plaquemines Parish
President Billy Nungesser said after touring the clogged marshes. "Had
you fallen off that boat yesterday and come up breathing that stuff,
you probably wouldn't be here, either."
Pucker your lips for the Apocalypse!
Johnny Asia, Guitarist from the Future