BP pledges to pay for Gulf spill’s cleanup, damages

VENICE, La. — BP PLC gave some assurance Monday to shrimpers, oil workers and scores of others that they will be paid for damage and injuries from the explosion of a drilling rig and the resulting massive oil spill in the Gulf.

This satellite photo provided by NASA shows the oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico closing in on the Gulf Coast in the southern United States. Oil from a massive spill in the Gulf of Mexico was starting to ooze ashore

This satellite photo provided by NASA shows the oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico closing in on the Gulf Coast in the southern United States. Oil from a massive spill in the Gulf of Mexico was starting to ooze ashore

VENICE, La. — BP PLC gave some assurance Monday to shrimpers, oil workers and scores of others that they will be paid for damage and injuries from the explosion of a drilling rig and the resulting massive oil spill in the Gulf.

A fact sheet on the company website says BP takes responsibility for cleaning up the spill and will pay compensation for “legitimate and objectively verifiable” claims for property damage, personal injury and commercial losses. President Barack Obama and several attorneys general have asked the company to explain what exactly that means.

People like Dana Powell, manager of the Paradise Inn in Pensacola Beach, Fla., have feared what will happen to the Gulf Coast’s staple industries such as tourism and commercial fishing.

“Now when there’s a hurricane, we know it’s going to level things, devastate things, be a huge mess and it’s going to take several years to clean up,” she said. “But this? It’s going to kill the wildlife, it’s going to kill lifestyles — the shrimpers, the fishermen, tourism. Who’s going to come to an oil-covered beach?”

In the Chandeleur Sound on Monday, about 64 kilometres northeast of Venice, thick, heavy oil was slicked in long clumps that looked like raw sewage. Several sick and dying jellyfish could be seen in the water.

A dolphin surfaced nearby but did not appear to be in distress as rain fell over the scene.

Charter boat captain Bob Kenney looked across the oil streaming in as rain fell. The oil was drifting northward toward the Chandeleur Islands and the Mississippi coast.

“This rain is mother ocean crying because of all this oil in her,” said charter boat captain Bob Kenney. “This is what makes me cry.”

BP CEO Tony Hayward said Monday on ABC’s “Good Morning America” that BP was not responsible for the accident. He said the equipment that failed and led to the spill belonged to owner Transocean Ltd., not BP, which operated the Deepwater Horizon rig.

Guy Cantwell, a Transocean spokesman, responded by reading a statement without elaborating.

“We will await all the facts before drawing conclusions and we will not speculate,” he said.

A board investigating the explosion and oil leak plans to hold its first public hearing in roughly two weeks. The cause of the April 20 explosion, which killed 11 workers, has not been determined.

Coast Guard Capt. David Fish, chief of the Washington-based Office of Investigations and Analysis, said the six-member board — three from the Coast Guard and three from the U.S. Minerals and Management Service — will likely meet in the New Orleans area and take testimony from experts and workers who survived the disaster.

“We want to get it public because that’s just what our rules are and while everything is fresh in everyone’s mind, particularly with the witnesses,” he said.

Meanwhile, Hayward said chemical dispersants seem to be having a significant impact keeping oil from flowing to the surface, though he did not elaborate.

The update on the dispersants came as BP was preparing a system never tried to siphon away the spill of crude from a blown-out well more than a kilometre underwater. However, it will take at least another six to eight days before crews can lower 74-ton concrete-and-metal boxes being built to capture the oil and siphon it to a barge waiting at the surface.

That delay could allow at least another million gallons to spill into the Gulf, on top of the roughly 2.6 million or more that has spilled since the April 20 blast. Those numbers are based on the Coast Guard’s estimates that 200,000 gallons a day are spilling out, though officials have cautioned it’s impossible to know exactly how much is leaking.

By comparison, the tanker Exxon Valdez spilled 11 million gallons off the Alaska coast in 1989.

Crews continued to lay boom in what increasingly felt like a futile effort to keep the spill from reaching the shore, though choppy seas have made that difficult and rendered much of the oil-corraling gear useless.

In Pensacola, Florida Gov. Charlie Crist characterized the spill as “sort of an underground volcano of oil.” He said Monday that BP was responsible for the cleanup and added “we’ll be more than happy to send them the bill.”

Everything engineers have tried so far has failed to stop the leak. After the explosion, the flow of oil should have been stopped by a blowout preventer, but the mechanism failed. Efforts to remotely activate it have proven fruitless.

The oil could keep gushing for months until a second well can be dug to relieve pressure from the first.

Many coastal communities are desperate to keep the slick away from their beaches. One person had a suggestion at a BP town hall meeting held in Navarre, Fla., however.

“Would it be possible to just go out there and bomb the hell out of it?” said Kenny Wilder, 67, of Navarre.

Besides the immediate impact on Gulf industries, shipping along the Mississippi River could soon be limited because the slick was precariously close to a key shipping lane. Ships carrying food, oil, rubber and much more come through the Southwest Pass to enter the vital waterway.

Shipment delays — either because oil-splattered ships need to be cleaned off at sea before docking or because water lanes are shut down for a time — would raise the cost of transporting those goods.

“We saw that during Hurricane Katrina for a period of time — we saw some prices go up for food and other goods because they couldn’t move some fruit down the shipping channels and it got spoiled,” PFGBest analyst Phil Flynn said.

The Port of New Orleans said projections suggest the pass will be clear through Tuesday.

Obama toured the region Sunday, deflecting criticism that his administration was too slow to respond and did too little to stave off the catastrophe. The administration has also strongly defended any comparison to the slow response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

A piece of plywood along a Louisiana highway had these words painted on it: “OBAMA SEND HELP!!!!”

The containment boxes being built were not part of BP’s original response plan. The approach has been used previously only for spills in relatively shallow water. Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen said engineers are still examining whether the valves and other systems that feed oil to a ship on the surface can withstand the extra pressures of the deep.

BP was trying to cap the smallest of three leaks with underwater robots in the hope it will make it easier to place a single oil-siphoning container over the wreck. One of the robots cut the damaged end off a pipe at the smallest leak Sunday and officials were hoping to cap it with a sleeve and valve, Coast Guard spokesman Brandon Blackwell said Monday. He did not know how much oil was coming from that leak.

“We see this as an opportunity to simplify the seafloor mission a little bit, so we’re working this aggressively,” BP spokesman Steve Rinehart said.

A company official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the volume of reserves, confirmed reports that tens of millions of barrels of oil were beneath the seabed being tapped by the rig when it blew up. Bob Fryar, senior vice-president for BP in Angola, said any numbers being thrown out are just estimates at best.

On Sunday, fishermen from the mouth of the Mississippi River to the Florida Panhandle got the news that more than 10, 900 square kilometres of federal fishing areas were closed, fracturing their livelihood for at least 10 days and likely more just as the prime spring season was kicking in.

Peter Young has worked nearly 18 years as a fishing guide and said he’s afraid his way of life may be slipping away. The government has overreacted by shutting down vital fishing areas in the marshes, he said.

Until he sees oil himself, Young will keep fishing the closed areas.

“They can take me to jail,” he said. “This is our livelihood. I’m not going to take customers into oil, but until I see it, I can’t sit home and not work.”

———

Associated Press writers Harry R. Weber, Jay Reeves, Mike Graczyk, Tamara Lush, Brian Skoloff, Melissa Nelson, Mary Foster, Chris Kahn, Vicki Smith, John Flesher, Allen G. Breed and AP Photographer Dave Martin contributed to this report.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Bloc Québécois MP Sebastien Lemire rises during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Friday, March 12, 2021. A Bloc Québécois MP has apologized for taking a screen shot of a Liberal MP who inadvertently appeared nude during virtual proceedings in the House of Commons last week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Bloc Québécois MP apologizes for taking nude photo of Liberal MP William Amos

‘I have no idea how that photo made its way into the media’

Green Party MP Elizabeth May arrives on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Thursday, Sept. 24, 2020. An emergency parliamentary debate that was supposed to be a forum for cross-party collaboration on better ways to combat the COVID-19 pandemic has devolved into another round of partisan finger-pointing. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Emergency parliamentary debate on pandemic devolves into partisan finger-pointing

‘Let’s work together instead of playing terrible politics in this debate’

Quebec deputy premier and Public Security Minister Genevieve Guilbault speaks at a news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic and reacts to Prime Minister Trudeau’s measures for international travellers on Friday, Jan. 29, 2021, at the legislature in Quebec City. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jacques Boissinot
Quebec provincial police to take part in body camera pilot project

Calgary was the first large Canadian police force to adopt body cameras in 2019

The Business Council of Alberta says the federal budget is nearly silent on Canada’s energy sector. (File photo by The Canadian Press)
Business Council of Alberta mostly disappointed in federal budget

Investments in childcare and early learning commended

.
3-hour paid leave for Albertans to get vaccinated in the works

The UCP government intends to introduce legislation that will ensure working Albertans… Continue reading

Westerner Park’s Exhibition Hall was used as a vaccination clinic on Wednesday. A steady stream of people came to get their COVID-19 shots either by appointment or as walk-ins. Photo by PAUL COWLEY/Advocate staff
No long lineups at walk-in vaccination site in Red Deer

A steady stream of people walked into Westerner Park on Wednesday to… Continue reading

Linda Tomlinson
Gardening: Leave the lawn until the soil is dry

Spring is arriving, Alberta style with warm days, cold days and snow.… Continue reading

Silent protests were held recently in response to Red Deer Public Schools’ decision to reject a Pride Week in favour of a Diversity Week. Some former employees at Red Deer Public are saying the decision is misguided. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Letter: School board silencing Pride Week concern

While it has been our practice to not comment on matters arising… Continue reading

Anderson scores twice as Canadiens down Oilers 4-3

Anderson scores twice as Canadiens down Oilers 4-3

New York Liberty guard Kia Nurse (5) shoots next to Indiana Fever's Kamiah Smalls during the first half of a WNBA basketball game Thursday, Sept. 10, 2020, in Bradenton, Fla. Nurse isn't just one of Canada's finest female basketball players, she's becoming a popular voice of the game as well. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP -Phelan M. Ebenhack
Canadian basketball star Nurse is carving out space in sports broadcasting at just 25

Canadian basketball star Nurse is carving out space in sports broadcasting at just 25

The D.C. Defenders, right, line up against the Seattle Dragons for the opening kickoff of the opening football game of the XFL season, in Washington, Saturday, Feb. 8, 2020. Despite heated social media discussion in Canada, talks between the CFL and XFL haven't addressed what rules could be implemented in a potential partnership. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Stephen Whyno
CFL commissioner Ambrosie says talks with XFL have centred around business, not rules

CFL commissioner Ambrosie says talks with XFL have centred around business, not rules

Former B.C. university rowing coach ‘deeply sorry’ after complaints

Former B.C. university rowing coach ‘deeply sorry’ after complaints

Canada's Brianne Jenner (19) and Russia's Anna Shibanova (70) battle for position in front of Russia goaltender Alexandrova Nadezhda (31) during third period IIHF Ice Hockey Women's World Championship preliminary round action in Plymouth, Mich., on Monday, April 3, 2017. The women's world hockey championship in Nova Scotia has been cancelled a second time because of COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Kryk
Women’s world hockey championship in Nova Scotia cancelled again

Women’s world hockey championship in Nova Scotia cancelled again

Canada's Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford compete in the pairs figure skating free program at the Pyeonchang Winter Olympics Thursday, February 15, 2018 in Gangneung, South Korea. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
“Once in a lifetime opportunity” – Radford, James are Canada’s newest pairs team

“Once in a lifetime opportunity” - Radford, James are Canada’s newest pairs team

Most Read