Gulf Oil Spill Reaches U.S. Coast; New Orleans Reeks of "Pungent Fuel Smell"

By Andrew Moseman | April 30, 2010 9:26 am

The moment conservationists have been dreading since the Gulf of Mexico oil spill started—that oil making landfall—appears to be upon us. This morning the Coast Guard is flying over the Gulf Coast to check out reports the crude washed ashore overnight, and more reports of oil drifting ashore are coming out of Louisiana. Crews in boats were patrolling coastal marshes early Friday looking for areas where the oil has flowed in, the Coast Guard said. Storms loomed that could push tide waters higher than normal through the weekend, the National Weather Service warned [AP].

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano set up a second base of operations to deal with potential impacts on the Gulf Coast states of Alabama, Mississippi, and Florida. Meanwhile, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal has declared a state of emergency, and said: “Based on current projections, we expect the oil to reach land today at the Pass-A-Loutre Wildlife Management Area. By tomorrow, we expect oil to have reached the Chandeleur Islands and by Saturday, it is expected to reach the Breton Sound. These are important wildlife areas and these next few days are critical” [Nature]. The city of New Orleans already reeks of a”pungent fuel smell” believed to come from the oil spill, as the Times-Picayune newspaper puts it.

With this news, along with yesterday’s announcement that the spill could be five times worse than first believed, the Deepwater Horizon disaster is close to becoming historically bad. The oil slick could become the worst U.S. environmental disaster in decades, threatening to eclipse even the Exxon Valdez in scope. It imperils hundreds of species of fish, birds and other wildlife along the Gulf Coast, one of the world’s richest seafood grounds, teeming with shrimp, oysters and other marine life [CBS News]. To make matters worse, experts say that marshlands are far more difficult to clean than sandy beaches. Says David Kennedy of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, “It is of grave concern. I am frightened. This is a very, very big thing. And the efforts that are going to be required to do anything about it, especially if it continues on, are just mind-boggling” [AP].

Responders keep trying to stem the flow, but all the Coast Guard’s containment boom and controlled fires, and all of BP’s undersea robots, haven’t been able to stop the oil leak deep undersea. Underscoring how acute the situation has become, BP is soliciting ideas and techniques from four other major oil companies — Exxon Mobil, Chevron, Shell and Anadarko [The New York Times]. The military is trying to help BP, who’d leased the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, reach it emergency shutoff valves. “To be frank, the offer of help from all quarters is welcome,” said David Nicholas, a BP spokesman [The New York Times].

Facing a far-reaching catastrophe, today President Obama’s administration announced that the plan announced a month ago to expand offshore drilling is going on hiatus, at least until people figure out what went wrong in the Gulf. Meanwhile, the Interior Department says it will commence an immediate safety review of all the rigs and drilling platforms in the area.

Our previous posts on the Gulf Oil Spill:
80beats: Uh-Oh: Gulf Oil Spill May Be 5 Times Worse Than Previously Thought
80beats: Coast Guard’s New Plan To Contain Gulf Oil Spill: Light It on Fire
80beats: Sunken Oil Rig Now Leaking Crude; Robots Head to the Rescue
80beats: Ships Race To Contain the Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill

Image: NOAA

  • scott

    Obviously…the safeguards to prevent this are not up to par. Perhaps making all the execs sop up oil along the gulf coast all summer will nudge them towards funding better technologies to prevent such a future accident. I would love to see them all wiping oil off birds, cutting into their vacation time at their villas in the south of France.

    I know..I know..we need oil…we can’t yet just turn it off and frolic around under a wind powered world, but there is no excuse to not have technologies developed to control this. We can send ships and probes into space, so I am sure, with the proper funding, they can figure out and put into place better technologies to prevent this.

  • SPO101

    Everyone is making a big deal about the “bigot” gaff British Prime Minister Gordon Brown made. But because I’m a ruthless SOB who knows how to get thing DONE… I’m going to point out that our beloved President Obama made even a bigger blunder a while back when he opened the East Coast for offshore drilling.

    WHO KNEW that safe, harmless British Petroleum oil rig in the Gulf was going to blow up and cause the worst environmental disaster since the Exxon Valdez. I’m sure all you “Drill Baby Drill” right-wing, fanatic rednecks in Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, Texas and Florida are looking forward to all that valuable oil washing up on your coastline and wetlands… you’ll be RICH, right?

    (lol… You pathetic, morons chant “Drill Baby Drill” but think Oil Companies should NOT be responsible for SPILLS and let the government using YOUR tax dollars to take care of the environmental disasters. Ohhh and guess what? The oil from that doomed rig wasn’t even benefiting the USA. That oil was going to Communist China…

    I’m going to WRITE, call talk radio, make speeches and work tirelessly until you right-wingers go down in history as the worst sucker fools ever. Republicans and their Corporate masters have ravaged and expatriated most of this nation’s wealth and resources… WHY WOULD ANY GREAT AMERICAN SUPPORT THAT? The way I see IT, Conservatives are a bunch of anti-American traitors.

    That’s the problem here… President Obama has been TRYING so hard to cater scandalous multinational Corporations and their nutcase Republican/Conservative flunkies… he’s forgetting about the serious Progressives who got him in the Whitehouse.

    EVERY TIME Obama announces Center Right policy decisions to make Republicans happy his poll numbers go DOWN in the community that VOTED for him in 2008. You got to STOP this Mr. President. The
    Right-Wing ISN’T WORTH THE SACRIFICE… I WANT THAT CHANGE that was promised m#*~/’s!

    The LAST thing the USA needs right now is for the Republican Party low grade thought processes to TAKE BACK Congress…

    I’m overjoyed to see the Democrats are FINALLY starting to take on the Republican Party of NO! Harry Reid must of got a shot of testosterone or something because he muscled the Republicans to allow debate on Wall Street Reform. OK Republicans, filibuster! Explain to the American PEOPLE exactly WHY you think regulation and reform are bad ideas.

    Now that the entire Gulf Region of the USA is threatened by this horrific oil spill… maybe Republican voters can remember Bush/Cheney removed all safety and environmental regulations from oil rig operations.

    All legitimate EVIDENCE proves the Republican Party is setting up the American PEOPLE for a big fall we’re going to take because of all the waste, fraud, abuse, scandal, sexual deviancy, corruption, lies, incompetence, job outsourcing, off-shore tax evasion, reckless economics, welfare for the rich, war profiteering, Constitutional violations AND a Corporate Crime Wave of epic proportions…. The WORST looting of a nation’s wealth and resources in the history of MANKIND! All the result of 8 years of Bush/Cheney and the Republican Controlled Congress of 1994-2006…

    Where was the Tea Party anger THEN? ya #*~/ ignorant hypocrites.

  • jumblepudding

    After the “Ruthless SOB who knows how to get things done” I was expecting a republican diatribe. but You’re an equal opportunity Ruthless SOB, good sir.

  • Ancientlight

    No regulation. Evidently BP saved the secondary ‘turn off’ techno and saved $500,000…hmmm…true dat having the big rich wigs clean up birds and oil for awhile, to earn those great bonuses…as their PROFIT increases this last year were up by 538%…drill baby drill indeed

  • Marie Hunt

    How can people be so naive in placing all the blame on BP. If you hired someone to work on a gas line in your house and they did something wrong and it exploded is it your fault? Common people give credit where credit is due. BP has stepped up and taken on everything to control the well and the spill. When will the other companies involved show their concern and any compassion to those affected.

  • AussieSOB

    3rd big disaster from drilling
    Australia had a Natural Gas drill rig go wrong last year in the pristine Kimberly area of Northern Western Australia, thankfully the well was 98% gas 2% oil , the slick never made it to land , it took 12 weeks to stop (3 months )

    Another gas drill rig went wrong in Indonesia and is still flowing mud years after it started , a mud volcano was formed witch has inundated the area

    good luck USA at keeping this disaster as small as possible

  • Cole Mims

    In the lake my grandparents live at they have a “spill-way” set up that keeps the lake water at a controllable level to prevent flooding.
    The spill way is designed to suck in the excess water in the lake and spit it out at another location in the event of flooding.
    A similar set-up would work for the Gulf if our government could find a way to create a spill-way that big, or creating a whirlpool effect to keep the oil in one spot until they can burn it, it would be alot of work and cost alot of taxpayer money, however, I think it would be worth saving our beaches from disaster.

  • boyd manges

    Halliburton was working on cement patching of the bore when “something happened” Easy to speculate on unproven/unprovable technology causing an explosion in the bizarre high pressure low temp environment of deep sea drilling. Our emasculated regulators never had a chance to do an independent analysis and relied “as always” on industry data..from Halliburton…which was wrong. So, of course, this shows Obama caused the spill as part of a fascist/communist attempt to take over the oil industry. totally predictable.

  • US Gulf Oil Spill

    “To make matters worse, experts say that marshlands are far more difficult to clean than sandy beaches. Says David Kennedy of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration”

    I live in southeast Louisiana and know several people who live in the affected areas. Most of them fish for a living, and they are truly upset due to the potential loss of income for the next several years.

    Plus, the cleanup on the marshlands is going to a royal pain. Just go and visit the area, or do a flyover and you’ll see exactly what I’m talking about. My wife wanted to go down there to volunteer to help cleanup, but we’re currently waiting to see if the spill is going to make it into Lake Ponchatrain. If it does, then we’ll have our work cut out for us helping to cleanup the lake.

  • White Nola Monkey in Beijing

    Thanks for screwing up my home again USA. Good job on trying to protect the environment~ ya really fumbled that one! I would like to know how brazil can have better security measures on their rigs that our ‘great’ country? I tell ya what tho, I still hate the british, this just adds a little oil to the fire.

  • corinne colbert

    it is so very sad that this has catastrophy has occured in a very important region. not only are wildlife going to be affected but the fishing jobs are already on the line. people who are innocent will be affected.the oil companies and the government workers wont be affected.
    innocent fish, innocent birds, innocent fishing families.hope someone does some artwork about is not about who will pay. there is no point in using accountancy for this event or its effects. every available human should work around the clock to save the environment.and make sure it never hsppens again.

  • Deb Burks


    Shrimp boats are already equipped to be able to skim the water. Hire all of the shrimp boats on the Gulf Coast and line their nets with the oil soaking sponges so they can pick up the oil before it reaches the shore line. Give them big bags to line their freezer chests so they can fill the chests with the oil soaked sponges.

  • K Clark

    Nice idea Deb Burks on the skimming. Also like the whirlpool and burning oil idea of Cole Mims. Not sure how the spill-way idea concept works. Seems there ought to be a way to skim the water on a calm day. Or use some kind of vacuum to suck it up (skimmer idea). We could ask the Dyson team to build a device or at least the prototype, if not for use in this disaster, then for a future one, seeing as how they really don’t have a way to clean up these messes quickly.

    Interesting point about Halliburton, and others paying for the mistake as well. Wonder how Dick Cheney fits into all of this, and the Bush alliance to the Saudis.

  • SPBM

    if anyone who gets the Planet Green Channel watched the documentary on the aftermath from the Valdez Oil Spill, which occurred 18 years ago, those people in Alaska still haven’t fully recovered. The amount of commercial fisheries has gone down by over half. People lost their lives, got sick from the results of chemicals used to control the slick, the herring population has not come back, etc.

    And Exxon was sued for 5 billion in settlement – and only had to pay out 507 million. Many people only got a microfraction of what was promised. Companies like Exxon and BP have deep pockets, and the poor people whose lives will be affected by this won’t get to recoup anything really. Big corporations always win, and that stinks.

    Just one more reason to find cleaner sources of energy.

  • ricardo andrade

    I’m Brasilian, and I have a Idea to stop spill oil: “V” with legs. Yes, spine with legs, off armored concrete.

    Simple: armored concrete in spine form to stop de spill.

    Call me (55) 11 9916-3006 – Brasil São Paulo.

    Mr. Andrade, Ricardo.

  • clarimonde

    We need to ensure that BP will pay for this loss within a certain time frame. American Courts need to exercise the speedy trial thing here for all the people who will suffer from businesses affected. Not to mention all the tourism and the whole country suffering a non-financial loss. And the ecosystem will never be reimbursed so let us learn from Exon Valdez. BP will stall and hire millions of dollars worth of legal counsel and screw our people for their due reimbursement. Who should we write to to demand that there is a settlement before 20 years of whittling down the true cost and letting them get away with this???? We all need to write to our Congressman to demand this because just like Niagara Falls Super Cleanup, no one got anything except a kick in the butt, see above for Exon Valdez and how long are we going to take them making horrific profits without paying back the insurance costs of their money making blunders, no matter who’s fault the explosion it is BP’s responsiblity to pay for it. they can name call whoever and however they want but they have to pay and THEN they should take the others to court. Again, who should we all write to? Any suggestions? Americans need to stand fast on this.


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