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Tonight on 360°, seeking transparency from BP. The federal government wants it. We want it. Is the company paying enough claims? How much oil is really leaking into the Gulf? There are just of the questions we want answered. We have all the latest developments from the Gulf and tonight's other headlines.
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The federal government wants more openness from BP about how it is handling damage claims tied to the Gulf oil spill. Admiral Thad Allen, who's heading the government's response to the disaster, met with BP officials today.
"We need complete, ongoing transparency into BP's claims process including detailed information on how claims are being evaluated, how payment amounts are being calculated, and how quickly claims are being processed," Allen wrote in a letter to BP CEO Tony Hayward.
Several fishermen and charter fishing businesses have told us they either haven't seen a dime from BP, or haven't gotten enough money for the bills that keep coming. However, BP did report as of Monday it has paid nearly $49 million to individuals and business impacted by the spill. The company also said it will issue a second round of payments to cover lost wages or profits, boosting the amount it will pay out to about $84 million. Still, many people say BP isn't providing enough cash. What's going on? We're trying to find out. Tonight we'll bring the store of Louisiana couple that owns a lucrative charter fishing business. They say BP is moving too slow and is putting up too much red tape.
We're also checking into BP's claim that it is "untrue" that clean up workers have been prohibited from speaking to the media. "BP fully supports and defends all individuals rights to share their personal thoughts and experiences with journalists if they so chose," COO Doug Suttles said today. We're digging into that claim and keeping them honest. We'll also have CNN's John Robert's interview with Suttles.
Plus, we'll give you an up close look at the oil cleanup efforts in Louisiana. Anderson took a boat tour of a devastated barrier island with Gov. Bobby Jindal, who's fed up waiting for BP to clean up the oil. Jindal and local officials are now testing vacuums to suck up the mess. Jindal calls it "Cajun ingenuity."
Meanwhile, the number keeps going up on the amount of oil being captured with the cap now in place. Today BP said more than 15,000 barrels were recovered from the ruptured well in a recent 24-hour period. That's 15 times the original estimate and triple the size of the later estimate of 5,000 barrels.
There's also the battle over whether there are underwater plumes. BP says they don't exist. Scientists say they do. Our Tom Foreman, who will play the part of science teacher, will have that angle tonight.
We also have Anderson's exclusive interview with some of the wives of the oil rig explosion. Hear how the inferno changed their lives and what they have to say about BP.
Join us for these stories and much more starting at 10 p.m. ET. See you then.
Anderson Cooper | BIO
Anderson Cooper and Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal were given an up close look at the latest oil cleanup attempt. Workers are now using suction devices to try and separate the spilled oil from the water. Watch the full report tonight on AC360° at 10 pm ET.
"Top hats." "Top kills." Berms. Booms. As the attempts to plug the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico become more complex, so do the terms. We break down the jargon that you might come across as you follow the story.
1. Berms: A wall or barrier of sand usually used to protect against flooding along coasts, but now it's being considered to stop oil from washing up on Gulf Coast beaches.
Context: For nearly two weeks [Louisiana Gov. Bobby] Jindal has asked the [U.S. Army] Corps [of Engineers] to approve a plan to dredge sand berms off the coast in an attempt to keep oil from reaching inland marshes.
2. Blowout preventer: A large valve at the top of a well that can be closed to stop oil from gushing into the sea in the event of a problem or when the oil rig sank a month ago, triggering the leak.
Context: BP, the well's majority owner, has been trying to stop the flow by using remote-controlled submarines to activate a valve atop the well. But the valve, known as a blowout preventer, is not working.
3. Booms: These are long pieces of plastic tarp sewn such that they consist of flotation devices on top and a weighted skirt that sinks into the water. They are deployed along beaches to stop surface oil slicks from washing inland.
Context: “We need more boom, we need more resources, we need the materials we have requested to fight this oil and keep it out of our marsh and off of our coast,’’ Louisiana’s governor said.
4. Dispersants: Oil dispersants are chemicals that can break the oil down into small drops and prevent it from reaching the surface or the shore. Dispersants are generally less harmful than the oil itself, which is highly toxic, and they biodegrade more quickly.
Context: EPA ordered BP to find another chemical dispersant to use on the oil spill after concerns arose about the long-term effects of the substance now being used.
5. Junk shot: Debris such as shredded rubber tires, golf balls and similar objects would be shot under extremely high pressure into the blowout preventer in an attempt to clog it and stop the leak. The goal of the junk shot is to force-feed the preventer, the device that failed when the disaster unfolded, until it becomes so plugged that the oil stops flowing or slows to a relative trickle. That would be followed by a “top kill.”
Context: Using the same tubes and pipes, BP would then try a "junk shot," pumping material like golf balls, pieces of tire and pieces of rope into the blowout preventer.
6. Relief well: A well drilled into the existing well, intercepting the flow and allowing a specialized heavy liquid to be pumped into the flowing well to bring it under control. This liquid is denser than oil and so exerts pressure to stem the flow of oil.
Context: Now BP has started drilling a relief well that eventually could allow them to close off the broken well. However, that would take at least two months to work, said Doug Suttles, the BP chief operating officer.
7. Skimmers: A device used to recover oil from the water’s surface. There are three main types of skimmers. The Weir skimmers, for example, use a dam or enclosure positioned at the oil-water interface. Oil floating on top of the water will spill over the dam and be trapped in a well inside, bringing with it as little water as possible. The trapped oil and water mixture is then pumped.
Context: Mayors and parish presidents were critical of both the government and BP's handling of the cleanup, recounting stories of misdirected protective booms or skimmers that sat on trucks ashore.
8. "Top hat": A top hat is a smaller version of a containment dome that BP tried to install earlier. It is a sort of upside-down funnel designed to trap the oil and channel it to the surface, again to be offloaded onto ships. The earlier four-story containment dome failed when natural gas crystals collected inside the structure, plugging an outlet at the top. BP is abandoning plans to use the “top hat” containment dome to contain the spill for now.
Context: The "top hat" oil-containment device has reached the sea floor in the Gulf of Mexico and should be in position over a leaking well head and operational by the end of the week, well owner BP said Wednesday.
9. "Top kill": Not to be confused with “top hat,” this maneuver is an attempt to stop and seal the well instead of just containing it. The top kill involves pumping heavy drilling fluid into the head of the leaking well at the seafloor. The manufactured fluid, known as drilling mud, is normally used as a lubricant and counterweight in drilling operations. The hope is that the drilling mud will stop the flow of oil. If it does, cement then would be pumped in to seal the well.
Context: All previous attempts by the company to cap the spill have failed, and BP CEO Tony Hayward said the top kill maneuver will have a 60 percent to 70 percent chance of success when it is put in place as early as Wednesday morning.
10. Riser insertion tube: The riser insertion tube tool involves inserting a 4-inch diameter tube into the Horizon’s rise, a 21-inch diameter pipe, between the well and the broken end of the riser on the seafloor in 5,000 feet of water. The insertion tube would be connected to a new riser to allow hydrocarbons to flow up to the Transocean Discoverer Enterprise drillship located on the surface. The oil will be separated and then safely shipped ashore.
Context: After some success with the riser insertion tube, BP is preparing to try its "top kill" approach to stemming the flow of oil from the Macondo well, probably on Wednesday.
11. Oil plumes: These are underwater globules of oil that do not float to the surface of the ocean. Scientists say microscopic oil droplets are forming these deep water oil bubbles. The heavy use of chemical dispersants, which breaks up surface oil, is said to have contributed to the formation of these plumes. Scientists are worried that these underwater globs will pose a threat to the marine ecosystem and that the oil could be absorbed by tiny animals and enter a food chain that builds to larger fish.
Context: The University of South Florida recently discovered a second oil plume in the northeastern Gulf. The first plume was found by Mississippi universities in early May.
CNN Wire Staff
Federal authorities have given BP a 72-hour deadline to provide contingency plans for the collection of oil in the Gulf of Mexico, according to a letter - dated Tuesday - sent to the company.
The development comes as oil disaster hearings continue Wednesday on Capitol Hill, with the House and Senate tackling issues ranging from safety and cleanup to liability.
Three committees and two subcommittees will discuss matters related to the gusher in the Gulf of Mexico and the oil industry.
Abbie Boudreau and David Fitzpatrick
CNN Special Investigations Unit
A history of slipshod inspections is at least partly to blame for the disaster that destroyed the drill rig Deepwater Horizon and unleashed the worst oil spill in U.S. history, a former Interior Department official says.
Bobby Maxwell worked for 22 years as an auditor and audit supervisor for the Minerals Management Service, and he said the disaster would not have happened if inspectors had done their jobs. But he said a "culture of corruption" enveloped the agency, "and it permeated the whole agency, both the revenue and the inspection side."
The Minerals Management Service, a division of the Interior Department, is the primary federal agency that conducts safety inspections and collects revenue on the more than 3,500 oil wells in the Gulf of Mexico. Before leaving the agency in 2006, he supervised more than 100 auditors, who dig through oil company documents to make sure the federal government is getting all the royalties it's owed.
CNN Wire Staff
Lima, Peru– Joran van der Sloot, the longtime suspect in the disappearance of Alabama teen Natalee Holloway, could be formally charged as early as Wednesday in the death of a Peruvian woman, authorities said.
Also Wednesday, van der Sloot is expected to re-enact for investigators the crime in his room at Hotel Tac, said Peru National Police Col. Abel Gamarra.
That re-enactment was originally slated for Tuesday but was delayed for security reasons.
As BP tries various methods to stop the oil disaster scientists, students and imaginative amateurs have suggested ways to stop or clean up the Gulf oil disaster in the days and weeks after the oil rig explosion that killed 11 workers and started the biggest environmental disaster in U.S. history.
The Mexican government is requesting a quick and transparent investigation into the fatal shooting by a U.S. Border Patrol agent of a Mexican teen in Ciudad Juarez on Monday night, the Foreign Ministry said Tuesday.
The teen was shot during a rock-throwing incident, Mexican and U.S. officials said.
Mexico "reiterates that the use of firearms to repel a rock attack represents a disproportionate use of force, particularly coming from authorities who receive specialized training on the matter," the Foreign Ministry said Tuesday in a news release.
The teen's death was the second at the hands of U.S. border authorities in less than two weeks.
Monday night's incident started around 6:30 p.m. when Customs and Border Protection Border Patrol agents responded to a report of a group of suspected illegal immigrants being smuggled into the United States near the Paso del Norte port of entry, FBI Special Agent Andrea Simmons said.
A suspect identified as Oscar Ivan Pineda Ayala was initially detained on the Rio Grande levy, said the FBI, which is leading the investigation.
"Another agent arrived on his bicycle along the cement apron that forms the riverbank on the U.S. side," Simmons said in a release. "That agent detained a second subject, Augustin Alcaraz Reyes, but other subjects ran into Mexico and began to throw rocks at the agent.
"This agent, who had the second subject detained on the ground, gave verbal commands to the remaining subjects to stop and retreat," Simmons said. "However, the subjects surrounded the agent and continued to throw rocks at him. The agent then fired his service weapon several times, striking one subject who later died."
Simmons told CNN earlier that she did not know whether the person who was shot was on the Mexican or U.S. side of the border, but that the agent never left U.S. territory.
The body was found on the Mexican side of the border, Simmons said.
Ciudad Juarez spokesman Sergio Belmonte identified the dead 14-year-old boy as secondary student Sergio Adrian Hernandez Huereca.
Belmonte said Hernandez was shot in the head.
"The young man was not armed," Belmonte said. "He did not have the physical size to threaten anyone. The aggression (by the U.S. agent) is evident."
The shooting occurred underneath the Black Bridge, a railroad span that connects the two countries, the Mexican official said.
The FBI said the "area where this incident occurred is a known high-risk crime area where rocks are regularly thrown at Border Patrol agents and where other assaults have been reported."