Washington: As US President Barack Obama
prepared to visit Louisiana to see the devastation from the
catastrophic Gulf of Mexico oil spill, Governor Bobby Jindal
has warned that the sprawling slick threatens the very way of
life of people in his state.
"This oil spill threatens not only our wetlands and our
fisheries, but also our way of life," Jindal, Louisiana`s
Indian-American Republican governor said ahead of his meeting
with Obama, who is visiting Louisiana today to see the
devastation for himself.
Adm. Thad Allen, commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard,
who Obama has named "national incident commander" for the
spill, said that no progress had been made in cutting off the
flow of oil from the damaged well, which is 5,000 feet below
the ocean surface.
The White House is eager to avoid the mistakes made by
President George W. Bush, who was seen as too detached from
floundering rescue efforts after the much more dire Hurricane
Katrina in 2005.
The Louisiana wetlands host a multi-billion-dollar
fishing industry and is a prime spawning area for fish,
shrimp, crabs and oyster beds.
Jindal said federal and state officials are scrambling
to do what they can to prevent the oil from reaching the
state`s fishing and wildlife areas.
Keeping up pressure on the British energy giant,
Jindal said he had still not received detailed plans from the
firm on how it would stop the spill, which experts had tripled
in size in just days.
Satellite images analysed by the University of Miami
suggest the slick has ballooned to an area the size of Puerto
Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana and Florida have all
declared a state of emergency. Attorneys general from the four
states and Texas are meeting in Alabama today to discuss their
legal options and how to respond to the disaster.
Choppy seas and strong winds have been hampering the
clean-up operation, media reports said.
The BP-operated Deepwater Horizon rig sank on April
22, two days after a huge explosion that killed 11 workers.
BP`s chief executive, Tony Hayward, is also expected
in Louisiana today. The company has said it will honour
legitimate claims for damages.
The US Coast Guard initially estimated about 200,000
gallons of oil a day were gushing from the well, but conceded
yesterday it was nearly impossible to be sure how much is
Hans Graber, a professor of applied marine physics
based at the University of Miami, estimates the slick has
expanded three-fold in just days to some 9,900 sq km.
There have been warnings that within weeks the spill
could eclipse the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster as the worst in