A summary of May 5 events related to the vast oil spill from the Deepwater Horizon

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Some oil spill events from May 5, 2010

Events May 5, Day 16 of a Gulf of Mexico oil spill that began with an explosion and fire on April 20 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 about 210,000 gallons per day. The slick threatens the U.S. coastline.


The Coast Guard says BP PLC has managed to cap one of three leaks at a deepwater oil well. That’s not expected to reduce the overall flow of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, but does make it possible to drop a single containment box on the breach spewing the vast majority of the oil.


Two satellite images taken Wednesday morning indicate that oil has reached the Mississippi Delta and the Chandeleur Islands off the coast of Louisiana, an imaging expert says. It’s not clear from the radar images whether the oil has reached the shore, but “it’s certainly very close,” said Hans Graber, director of the University of Miami’s satellite sensing facility. He said the images also show oil drifting to the south, toward the Loop Current, which could carry oil toward Florida and the Florida Keys.

Boats remained at the Chandeleur Island chain because officials got a report of oil coming ashore there, but their crews had not seen any. “They’re sitting there, basically, waiting for the first signs of any kind of a sheen to touch the islands,” said U.S. Coast Guard Lt. James McKnight.


A 100-ton contraption to funnel oil spewing from the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico into a drilling ship heads out on the offshore supply boat Joe Griffin for a 10- to 12-hour voyage to the leak site 50 miles off the Louisiana coast. BP spokesman John Curry said it would be on the seabed by Thursday and hooked up to a drill ship over the weekend.

Two sets of vessels corralled and burned heavy oil offshore. Rear Adm. Mary Landry said the number of burns and estimated amount of oil burned would be reported Thursday.

In Plaquemines Parish, near Louisiana’s southern tip, crews load absorbent boom onto a barge to be used as a distribution point for local fishermen and shrimpers to lay the boom around sensitive marshes at the mouth of the Mississippi River.

Hundreds of black garbage bags dot beaches between Biloxi and Gulfport as crews shovel up and bag debris that has washed ashore, to make the cleanup easier if oil does so.


Interior Secretary Ken Salazar says federal inspectors checked 30 offshore drilling rigs in the Gulf of Mexico and did not find any major problems. He said minor problems were found on one rig. The inspections should be finished Wednesday.


Three more congressional committees announce hearings: Senate Environment and Public Works, May 11; House Transportation and Infrastructure, May 19, and House Natural Resources, May 26-27. Announced earlier: Senate Energy and Natural Resources, May 11, and House Energy and Commerce, May 12. The Senate Commerce Committee will also hold a hearing, but no date has been set.


Federal fisheries officials investigate whether aggressive shrimpers are drowning endangered sea turtles that have been washing up on Gulf Coast beaches with no signs of oil. Shrimp nets are required to include escape hatches for sea turtles. Sheryan Epperly, sea turtle team leader for the National Marine Fisheries Service, said investigators will look at whether some shrimp boats taking part in an emergency shrimping season because of the spill removed those devices from their nets.

Wildlife officials say at least 35 endangered sea turtles have washed up on Gulf Coast beaches, but it’s not clear what’s killing them. Necropsies of 10 have shown no signs of oil, externally or internally, said Barbara Schroeder, NOAA national sea turtle coordinator.

So far, only two birds have been brought to a rescue center. Both are recovering.


BP, Coast Guard and Florida Department of Environmental Protection open unified command post in St. Petersburg.


Attorneys general from Gulf coast states are asking BP to explain its commitment about paying appropriate claims from the Gulf oil spill and how it will go about making the payments. Alabama Attorney General Troy King said the five attorneys general sent a letter to BP on Wednesday seeking more details about the company’s promise to “pay all necessary and appropriate clean-up costs.” King said, “We don’t know what is a legitimate claim. That’s lawyer-speak at a time when we need straight talk and clear answers. King said BP appears willing to work with the Gulf coast states, and the attorneys general for Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida and Texas are hopeful of getting an answer as early as Thursday.

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