NPR logo Oil Spill Still Not Under Control; Gulf Fishing Industry 'Terrified'


Oil Spill Still Not Under Control; Gulf Fishing Industry 'Terrified'

The latest news from the Gulf Coast isn't any better than that of previous days:

— "Heavy winds continued to whip up high waves on the Gulf of Mexico on Saturday, thwarting attempts to contain the growing slick that's washing ashore in southern Louisiana and threatening the Mississippi and Alabama coasts. Rough waves rolled over containment booms, pushing oil-slicked water closer to shore, where wetlands and other fragile ecosystems stand at risk." (NPR staff and wire reports)

— "Some experts estimated the spill had tripled in size in just a day or so, suggesting that the oil is gushing out faster than officials initially estimated. An apparent blowout April 20 caused the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig to burn and later sink. Eleven workers are missing and presumed dead. Although some reports have said an oily sheen already has reached shore, Adm. Thad Allen, the Coast Guard commandant who is overseeing the Obama administration's response to the spill, said the spreading oil's leading edge would reach the fragile Louisiana coastline in the next few days." (Houston Chronicle)

— "Yesterday, the Coast Guard commandant said the nature of this spill — a leak from an open well 5,000 feet under water — is unprecedented. And he conceded that at this point, it's impossible to say how much oil is leaking into the Gulf. The Coast Guard had estimated the slick to be at least 1.6 million gallons. Other experts say they believe far more oil has been released in a spill many fear now may eclipse the 11 million gallons released by the Exxon Valdez." (NPR's Greg Allen, from New Orleans.)

— "Terrified. It was the most common expression across the southeast Louisiana fishing community this week as the river of oil from a blown-out rig on the Gulf of Mexico began flowing onto the coast in what officials say could be a two- to three-month flood of toxic chemicals and sticky tars." (The Times Picayune)

One hopeful story we can pass along:

— "Officials in charge of the cleanup of a massive oil spill now approaching three Gulf Coast states said Saturday that a new technique in battling the leaks 5,000 feet beneath the sea showed promise. ... The new approach involves the deployment of (chemical) dispersants underwater, near the source of the leaks. Officials said that in two tests, that method appeared to be keeping crude oil from rising to the surface. They said that the procedure could be used more frequently once evaluations of its impact on the deepwater ecology were completed." (The New York Times)

President Barack Obama, who earlier in the week dispatched top Cabinet officials to the region, is to visit the area today.