Monday's oil spill updates

by Mary Tutwiler

There's good news and bad news this morning about the oil spill in the Gulf. There's good news and bad news this morning about the oil spill in the Gulf. The good news is that BP has succeeded in inserting a tube into the spewing well, and is now collecting about one fifth of the leaking oil.

The tube, which is a mile long, siphoning oil and gas to a tanker at the surface, is collecting more than 1,000 barrels a day or 42,000 gallons, BP chief operating office Doug Suttles announced on NBC's "Today" show, this morning. Estimates from BP are that about 200,000 gallons, or 5,000 barrels have been leaking each day since the well blowout on April 20.

Also this morning, Governor Bobby Jindal will fly over the spill area with Stuttles, and discuss a plan to rebuild barrier islands. Jindal is pushing for BP to pick up the coastal restoration tab.

But even as BP may finally be getting a handle on the leak, researchers from the University of Georgia detected giant miles-long underwater plumes of oil this weekend, drifting in the Gulf, that could become caught in the loop current and travel eastward toward the Florida keys and into the Atlantic Ocean.

The underwater oil has the potential to kill marine life in two ways. The oil itself is toxic. And even as beneficial underwater bacteria eat the oil, the microbial bloom causes oxygen depletion, which could create a dead zone, suffocating sea creatures that survive the initial spill.

In Louisiana's coastal zone, fears that the oil will come ashore into fragile marshes seems to be less of a threat this morning, according to NOAA's 48 hour predictions of oil spill movement. However, the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals is constantly monitoring oyster beds and shrimp catches to see if oil is turning up in the state's fishing grounds. DHH has been opening and closing oyster beds all weekend in Terrebonne Parish. On Saturday, the Louisina Department of Wildlife and Fisheries reported oiled shrimp near Sister Lake, also in Terrebonne Parish.