A summary of notable events for Thursday, June 17, Day 59 of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
IN THE HOT SEAT
BP CEO Tony Hayward faces a grueling day of hostile questioning by members of a House subcommittee. "I understand the seriousness of the situation, and the concerns the frustrations and fears that have been and will continue to be voiced,” he says. Hayward insists that safety had always been his top priority and "that is why I am so devastated with this accident."
‘YOU NEED TO BE CHARGED WITH A CRIME, TONY!’
Hayward’s opening statement is interrupted by a protester who jumps up from her seat, waving her blackened hands in the air and shouting: "Look at my hands! This is what it looks like in the marshes." As she is restrained by Capitol Hill police officers and escorted out, she yells, "You need to be charged with a crime, Tony!" The woman, Diane Wilson, a fourth-generation fisherwoman from Seadrift, Texas, is already facing disorderly conduct charges for interrupting a Senate hearing June 10 and pouring syrup over herself. She is a co-founder of the group Code Pink. Watch video.
WAITING FOR RELIEF
A relief well meant to stanch a gushing flow of oil into the Gulf is ahead of schedule and could reach its target in three to four weeks, says Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen. He says a rig has drilled nearly 10,000 feet below the seafloor and should be within 10 feet of the existing well within weeks. It will then bore down about 1,000 feet to intersect with the damaged well farther underground. Allen says the final push of drilling is the most difficult. The well originally was slated for completion in mid-August.
CLOSING FOR BUSINESS
The AmeriPure Oyster Company, one of the nation's largest oyster producers, says it is temporarily shutting down due to a shortage of oysters caused by the oil disaster. "We have truly done our level best to keep our loyal customers supplied with oysters since the spill began on April 20th," says managing partner Pat Fahey. "But we have come to realize that we're fighting a losing battle."
WHALE OF A CASUALTY?
A dead sperm whale has been found floating 77 miles south of the vast oil spill site. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is conducting tests to determine whether it had been in oil and what caused its death. The whale was partly decomposed when it was found Tuesday. It’s the first whale found dead in the Gulf since the April 20 rig explosion.
BP is reportedly considering selling up to $10 billion in new bonds to generate cash. CNBC says the offering could come to market as early as next week. Under pressure from the Obama administration, BP has agreed to fund a $20 billion account to pay for damage claims arising from the spill.
QUOTES OF THE DAY
“I'm ashamed of what happened in the White House yesterday. I think it is a tragedy of the first proportion that a private corporation can be subjected to what I would characterize as a shakedown, a $20 billion shakedown."
— Rep. Joe Barton of Texas, top Republican on the Energy and Commerce Committee
“How could this happen? How damaging is the spill to the environment? Why is it taking so long to stop the flow of oil and gas into the Gulf? We don't yet have all the answers to these important questions. But I hear and understand the concerns, frustrations and anger being voiced across the country."
— BP CEO Tony Hayward