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A summary of events up until Day 44 of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill that began with the April 20 explosion and fire on the drilling rig Deepwater Horizon, owned by Transocean Ltd. and leased by BP PLC, that killed 11 workers. Since then, oil has been pouring into the Gulf from a blown-out undersea well.
Engineers have been forced, yet again, to reconfigure hopes and plans to somehow stave off the worst oil spill in U.S. history. This time, they are hoping giant, industrial-sized scissors will work where a diamond edged saw did not.
CEO Admits Company is Unprepared
BP's top executive acknowledged the global oil giant was unprepared to fight a catastrophic deepwater oil spill. Tony Hayward, Chief Executive, told The Financial Times Newspaper that it was "an entirely fair criticism" to say his company was not prepared for a deepwater oil leak, certainly not one of this proportions. Calling it a "low-probability, high-impact" accident, Hayward hinted at the business perspective with which his company viewed a possibility of such an event occurring.
Criminal Indictments Next?
BP and other companies involved in the Gulf of Mexico oil spill are now facing criminal charges and civil penalties that could translate into hundreds of millions of dollars in fines--assuming that the spill is capped before it reaches the Atlantic currents. However, in order for any company executives or workers to be indicted individually, legal experts say the Justice Department will have to find evidence they orchestrated a coverup, destroyed key documents or lied to government agents. Prosecutors could seek serious jail time - five years or more - if they charge anyone with obstruction of justice, making false statements to the FBI or other U.S. officials or conspiracy to hinder a federal probe. But there must be evidence that a person was aware of the wrongdoing, well beyond mere negligence or incompetence, experts said.
The new presidential commission investigating the Gulf oil spill will include two experts who have been active on the subject of global warming, including one who wrote just last month that the country should redouble efforts to lessen its dependence on oil. The two will join former Florida Sen. Bob Graham and former Environmental Protection Agency chief William Reilly. Together, the backgrounds of the four panel members selected so far suggest the commission will look at more than just what went wrong, including the bigger picture of the country's conflicting environmental and energy needs.
Cost of Repair--So far...
The Coast Guard directed BP to pay for five additional sand barrier projects in Louisiana. BP said Thursday the project will cost it about $360 million, on top of about $990 million it had spent as of its latest expense update Tuesday on response and clean up, grants to four Gulf coast states and claims from people and companies hurt by the spill.
The Catastrophe Reaches Florida
Oil reached the Florida Panhandle's white sandy beaches, while crews on the mainland do everything possible to limit the catastrophe. The oil threatens a delicate network of islands, bays and white-sand beaches that are a haven for wildlife and a major source of tourist income for the locals in the region. Officials say the slick thus far that has reached the shores consists mainly of "tar mats" about 500 feet by 2,000 feet in size, although larger portions of oil mats are nearby.
Toll on the Wildlife
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have reported 522 dead birds - at least 38 of them oiled - along the Gulf coast states, and more than 80 oiled birds have been rescued.