Government Debriefed on Oil Spill

Monday, June 07, 2010

A hand covered with crude oil points to an oiled marsh where oil has come ashore May 26, 2010 in Blind Bay, Louisiana. (Win McNamee/Getty)

The president and top federal officials were briefed on the government's battle against the oil spill, still not under control in the Gulf of Mexico.

President Barack Obama sought to reassure Americans on Monday that the Gulf Coast would "bounce back" from the worst oil spill in the nation's history, but not without time, effort and reimbursement from BP.

The president and top federal officials were briefed on the government's battle against the spill by Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, who is overseeing the government's efforts in dealing with the tragedy.

Earlier Monday, Allen told reporters that a cap on the damaged oil well is now keeping up to 462,000 gallons of oil a day from leaking into the Gulf. That's up from an estimated 441,000 gallons on Saturday and about 250,000 on Friday.

"This will be contained," Obama asserted. "It may take some time, and it's going to take a whole lot of effort. There is going to be damage done to the Gulf Coast, and there is going to be economic damages that we've got to make sure BP is responsible for and compensates people for."

But, Obama added, "even if we are successful in containing some or much of the oil" the problem wouldn't be solved until relief wells reach the area of the damaged well in several months.

"What is clear is that the economic impact of this disaster is going to be substantial and it is going to be ongoing," Obama said.

"We also know that there's already a lot of oil that's been released, and that there's going to be more oil released no matter how successful this containment effort is," he added.

The president has been speaking out on the disaster almost daily and has visited the Louisiana coast three times since the April 20 explosion that killed 11 workers and unleashed the oil gusher.

The battle to contain the oil is likely to stretch into the fall, the government's point man on the spill warned. The cap will trap only so much of the oil, and relief wells being drilled won't be completed until August. Meanwhile, oil will continue to shoot out.

Reports that dead oiled birds had been found in Texas have been refuted.

Meanwhile, the widows of two workers killed in the Gulf of Mexico oil rig explosion are calling on Congress to repeal a 90-year-old law that limits the amount of money survivors can recover in the deaths of family members. Natalie Roshto of Liberty, Mississippi and Courtney Kemp of Jonesville, Louisiana, told a House panel Monday that the 1920 Death on the High Seas Act limits how much money maritime companies must pay in employee deaths at sea. Their husbands both worked for Transocean Ltd., and were among the 11 killed when the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded on April 20.

It was unclear whether Congress could repeal the maritime law retroactively, and whether any changes would apply in the Gulf explosion.

For more WQXR coverage on this story, click here and here.

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