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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Will Latest BP Attempt to Stop Oil Leak Work?; Oil Spill Impacting Wildlife
Aired June 3, 2010 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening again from Louisiana, a day and night of big developments, right now, breaking news from 5,000 feet beneath the Gulf of Mexico.
You're looking at a cap, as robots attempt to attach it to that freshly cut pipe on top of BP's leaking well. I know it's a hard picture to see what you're looking at. You can see oil still flowing out. It's not clear exactly what is going on. This is what it looked like just moments ago, a few minutes ago, as the robot sub lifted the cap off the ocean floor.
You can see the cap in the center of your screen. It looks sort of yellowish. You can see the flow of oil to the right of it. That's the cap before it was placed in the oil stream. They hoisted it up very slowly, lowered it on pipe at the top of the blowout preventer. Again, hard to say precisely how well the operation is going or not going at this point, how much, if at all, the oil is actually being reduced.
Sadly, BP doesn't release information as quickly as that oil releases well. But we already know that, even in the best of circumstances, this is only a temporary and incomplete fix. We're going to David Mattingly with an update on the operation in just a moment.
We're going to continue to follow this throughout the night, throughout the hour, bring you live updates. We also of course have the president's comments tonight on the spill that he made to Larry King a short time ago. He says he's furious. We will show you why he says that.
But we begin with images that tonight will likely make everyone furious. This is what we witnessed today, birds on Grand Isle. Now, it's hard to tell they're birds at first, frankly. They're suffocating in oil, three gulls struggling to breathe, stunned, fighting for their lives.
A lot of oil-covered animals seen on this, the same day that BP launched an expensive P.R. offensive, CEO Tony Hayward apologizing in ads and promising, in his words, to make things right.
They paid a big-time political consultant to make this ad, the price tag, an estimated $50 million, $50 million. Now, many of the fishermen we have been meeting for the last few weeks here are watching their livelihoods go down the drain -- $50 million -- while fishermen wait and struggle to collect a few thousand dollars that BP says they're going to pay them for lost work, but haven't paid them yet.
Now, I don't know, but I'm willing to bet that the P.R. firm got paid already that made that commercial. We learned today they have hired 27 former congressional and White House staffers to lobby for BP in Washington. We're betting they have been paid.
BP says they're going to make things right in that commercial. It's a good slogan. It's folksy. It's familiar. It's down-home. But our question to them tonight, if they were ever willing to come on this program, which they're still not, our question tonight is this: How are you going to make this right? How are you going to make this right? How are you going to make this right? And how are you going to make this right?
A few moments ago, I spoke with James Carville and Douglas Brinkley.
COOPER: James, BP says they're going to make it right.
I mean, at a time when fishermen are still waiting to be paid a few thousand dollars so they can meet their mortgages, they're now spending probably millions on this -- on this ad campaign.
JAMES CARVILLE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. And I -- I guess they have their own reasons for doing that. But -- but don't tell us you're going to make it right. Just make it right. Just show it.
They don't have a lot of credibility. There's a lot, a lot of skepticism. And every day that BP gets up, if they want to get people's confidence, it's going to be a fight every day when they get up to every night when they go to bed, because people here are skeptical. I am, and I think for good reason.
And we just don't trust them right now. And an ad is not going to make anybody trust them. I promise you that.
COOPER: It's interesting, Douglas, because, I mean, wherever you go in this area -- and you were just down here -- you know -- there are fishermen who are waiting around, waiting to be called up, have already taken training classes, waiting to be called to help in this effort, and people who say, look, not enough is being done; there's not enough folks out there.
DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Look, my bottom line is that this is not the time for BP to be doing this kind of P.R., rolling out advertisements. They have been buying full pages in newspapers. This is not about an image makeover for them.
It's about saving America's wetlands. President Obama is coming down there. And I promise you, he's not going to want to do the photo-op with Tony Hayward with his arm wrapped around him. Hayward has become disdained by the American public. There are members of Congress from Louisiana calling him to step down as CEO.
And it's because he's constantly doing this beyond-petroleum kind of makeover stunt, instead of, from day one, being transparent and open with the American people about the amount of oil that was gushing out of his well. Their track record is awful. They have had -- this is their, you know, third major disaster in five years in the United States.
And I would just scrap these kind of ads about making it right, and just plug the hole.
COOPER: And we're going to talk about the president's visit in a moment. And, actually, we will play you what -- some of what he said just an hour ago on "LARRY KING LIVE" about his feelings here and how he's furious. Those were his words.
But -- but, I mean, does it -- when -- when you see, you know, the images that we saw today of these birds just drenched in oil, I mean, we're seeing images now which we have not, frankly, seen before.
CARVILLE: But we're going to see a lot more of them. I mean, there's -- there's going to -- I don't know, half-a-million barrels of oil. Who knows. We can't get a straight -- a straight figure out of the Interior Department.
COOPER: Right. The figure that has been released is just even an estimate, I mean, that 12,000 to 19,000 figure that we don't even know...
CARVILLE: Yes. No, and there was a report I read -- I don't know how accurate it is -- that that's actually a lowball estimate.
COOPER: Right. That's a lowball estimate.
CARVILLE: So, we're going to see a lot of oil. We know that. This is a long fight. Why don't they -- somebody just tell us what we're faced with, come forward, have the -- the -- the research out there, plot this stuff?
And we're going to see a lot more dead birds. We're going to see a lot more oil. We're going to see all -- you saw the -- the mouth -- the mouth of the river is dead. No one has like told us that yet, but at least they could give...
COOPER: You think the mouth of the river is dead?
CARVILLE: It's evident. I mean, all of the -- the (INAUDIBLE) is completely distressed. It's going to die. And the -- the Gulf is going to wash the mud out. I hope I'm wrong. But it seems evident to me. It sure was evident to the Wildlife and Fisheries people. They didn't hold out much hope for it.
COOPER: And, you know, yesterday, James, we went back to the exact same spot that you and I were at with the governor last week at the exact same time, in Pass a Loutre, and the oil is still all there. I mean, it is all still there.
CARVILLE: Yes, it's going to be. I mean, it's a lot of land. And we saw miles and miles and miles. And I have no idea -- I hope I'm wrong -- but I'm not a botanist. I'm not a land management person, but I have no idea how that land is going to survive if it turns to mud, if it's going to wash away, and that will be it.
And the father of water -- as Abraham Lincoln says, the father of water runs unvexed to the sea. Well, it's a little less vexed now, because it's not going to have a mouth.
COOPER: Doug, I mean, I don't think -- a lot of people haven't seen these images of wildlife. I mean, we have seen a little bit.
But, today, it seems like -- and maybe just because the oil was -- people say the oil is approaching Grand Isle in a big way, that the tide has turning, and will be for the next couple days -- but, I mean, I was -- I was stunned to kind of see these images, these animals up close. I just -- we just happened upon them.
BRINKLEY: Yes. It's like the Exxon Valdez now. We're starting to really see that -- those horrible images of birds suffering, trying to get some breath.
Imagine what's going on in the Gulf, an entire marine system basically nuked from dispersants and oils.
COOPER: We're going to have more with Doug and James in just a moment.
COOPER: As I said, we will have more with Doug Brinkley and James Carville in a moment, also President Obama on the spill and his visit tomorrow, what he said just a short time ago.
Join the live chat right now at AC360.com.
Up next, we're going to update you on the breaking news: the latest on the bottom of the Gulf, where right now crews are trying to put that cap on BP's leaking well. David Mattingly, who knows this operation better than anyone, will be on to talk about what is happening.
Up next, also: our day on Grand Isle. It used to be teeming with life. Now it's a dying ground for animals. We will take you there.
Plus, a CNN exclusive: Kyra Phillips taking us out into the Gulf on to the rig that's acting as command central for trying to cap this leak right now.
COOPER: We will have more with James Carville, Doug Brinkley, and the president in a moment.
But we're following breaking news tonight from the Gulf, from deep in the Gulf, right now, as we speak, crews trying to attach that cap to the top of BP's leaking well. They lowered the cap into the oil stream just moments ago.
David Mattingly, who has been working the story tonight, brings us the latest.
David, what are we looking at? What do we -- we know about what's going on?
DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Based on what we can see right now, since we're not getting a play-by-play from BP, we can see that the cap is in place.
Now, we know that it's going to take them a while to find out if it's working or not. We're seeing that oil billowing out all over the place around that cap, which tells us something -- suggests that they -- something they were alerting us to earlier, that once they put that cap in place, it's not going to be a tight fit. There might be some oil coming out.
It remains to be seen how much they're actually going to capture with this cap and be able to funnel up to the surface. But, right now...
COOPER: So, what is that image we're looking at now? It's moving around a little bit? I mean, is that the cap there, that yellow thing, or do we know? Hard to tell.
MATTINGLY: It's hard to tell, because so much is obscured by that rushing oil.
MATTINGLY: But this is very dramatic.
When they took that -- when they cut that pipe, about 12 hours ago, they released a torrent of oil, just the most amount of oil we have been seeing coming out of there since this disaster began. And that's been going on for 12 hours.
So, we just completed probably the most polluted 12 hours of this crisis. And we're watching this cap that's being put in place. And that oil is still escaping all the way around it. Now, the idea is that they will be siphoning that oil off to the surface.
They know they may not be able to capture all of this. They have another plan. You know, when they used the blowout preventer for the top kill, where they were pumping mud into it... COOPER: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm.
MATTINGLY: ... well, now they're going to reverse that process a little bit later and try and pump oil out of it. So, they will have two avenues for that oil to go up to the surface.
COOPER: I'm going to give BP some free P.R. advice, not that they care what I say.
But they're spending $50 million on an ad. They could have somebody just narrating in real time what is happening, just like Houston does when they launch a rocket, and it would get people invested in this operation.
This is an incredibly dramatic operation. There are probably hundreds and hundreds of BP work -- people working around the clock, you know, at great personal cost to themselves, at -- their families, trying to make this happy.
BP could just, you know, inform us of what is going on in real time, and people would be on their side. People would be on these engineers' sides. Kyra Phillips was out at the site earlier and said a lot of BP people said, look, they don't watch TV anymore because all the news is negative about BP.
It's because they're not being transparent. If they just told us what was going on, people would be invested in this and would be on their side. I don't understand why it's like reading tea leaves about what is happening. This is incredibly important.
MATTINGLY: Everybody wants to see a successful end to this. You don't see anybody, however, cheering for BP at this moment...
MATTINGLY: ... because there's just been so much question, so much doubt about their credibility.
Now, it's funny you should compare this to NASA, because this is probably the most watched engineering feat, outside of a space launch, that we have ever seen.
COOPER: Right. And it's like watching a silent movie. I mean, when NASA launches a satellite or a rocket, they have a live feed.
I mean, one guy could explain what's going on in real time. We would play it live nonstop.
Anyway, just my free advice. They don't need to -- to pay $50 million for commercials. That would go a long way to -- to opening it up.
But, again, thankfully, we have you, David Mattingly, who's know -- who knows what's going on.
We're going to continue to have updates throughout this hour, because a lot of people praying this -- this works.
But, because they had to cut it with a shear, it's not a clean cut like they wanted with that saw.
COOPER: So, no matter what, some oil is still going to be leaking, even if they are successful.
MATTINGLY: That was the big disappointment when that saw failed.
MATTINGLY: They -- they wanted to get that nice, clean cut across, so they could use a cap on it with a different kind of seal. They weren't able to use that because the saw just didn't work right.
And now they had to go in and shear it off. It's a rough cut. And now they have a different kind of cap, not as tight.
MATTINGLY: And it's not going to be as effective.
COOPER: David Mattingly, appreciate it.
There's -- there's the shot right now. You can see oil still -- I assume that's oil.
MATTINGLY: It's spewing out like a rocket engine.
COOPER: We don't know where the cap is in this, though.
Estimates have been telling us that there is possibly 20 percent more oil leaking out since they cut that pipe off. For the last 12 hours, we have been seeing whatever the estimates were, 12,000-to- 20,000-barrels-a-day rate. Multiply that by 20 percent, that's what we have been seeing today.
COOPER: All right. David Mattingly, thanks.
We will continue to update throughout this hour.
President Obama arrives here tomorrow for his second visit in the last week. He appeared earlier tonight on "LARRY KING LIVE." Here's what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "LARRY KING LIVE") LARRY KING, HOST, "LARRY KING LIVE": You appear so calm.
Are you angry at BP?
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You know, I am furious at this entire situation, because this is an example of where somebody didn't think through the consequences of their actions. And it is imperiling not just a handful of people, this is -- this is imperiling an entire way of life and an entire region for, potentially, years. So...
KING: Has the company felt your anger?
OBAMA: Well, they have felt the anger. But what I haven't seen as much as I would like is the kind of rapid response.
Now, they want to solve the problem, too, because this is cost -- costing them a lot of money. And the one thing that I think is important to underscore is that I would love to just spend a lot of my time venting and yelling at people. But that's not the job I was hired to do. My job is to solve this problem. And, ultimately, this isn't about me and how angry I am.
Ultimately, this is about the people down in the Gulf who are being impacted and what am I doing to make sure that they're able to salvage their way of life?
And that's going to be the main focus that I have got in the weeks and months ahead.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: President Obama on "LARRY KING LIVE."
More now of my discussion with Douglas Brinkley and James Carville from a short time ago.
COOPER: James, the president says he's furious, but -- but he's not the kind of, you know, yelling-from-the-top-of-his-lungs kind of guy.
And, you know, and I -- I'm not one of these people that says he has to be emotive and he has to come down. What this president is, is -- this, I know. He's a very smart man. And he can be very determined and he has a lot of power.
Just use that brainpower you have, Mr. President, and use the power that the Constitution and the American people have given you. Hold people accountable. Tell us what's going on. Inform us. Talk to us as a nation. Tell us what the strategy is here. That -- that's what people want to know. And if the Interior Department is lowballing something, call somebody in, chew them out, fire them. Let -- show us that. And -- and I think there's too much been made that he needs to come down here and, you know, he can't -- Bill Clinton -- he's not as emotive as this guy.
That's not what it is. He's a -- he's a guy with an I.Q. of 160. He has got power to protect people. And people, we want to believe that our president is really going to level with us and protect us. That's what people want to believe, and that he -- he really understands the magnitude of the situation.
This is not -- this is not an incident. This is not a disaster. It's an environmental catastrophe.
COOPER: You actually ran into Admiral Allen in a restaurant...
CARVILLE: I did.
COOPER: ... eating dinner with BP CEO Tony Hayward.
COOPER: How was that?
CARVILLE: It was kind of a -- it was -- I just sort of -- everybody just realized that. And you see him sitting here. And there was Tony Hayward.
And he -- the gist of the conversation was...
COOPER: Did you ask him to give you an interview, by the way? Because this is like day 42 of them refusing to interview, I think.
CARVILLE: Right. I probably should have. I -- probably, you know, I..
COOPER: You should have called me over. I would have come over and done...
CARVILLE: Jim Walton -- yes, Jim Walton is probably mad at me. I wasn't on the job. Jim Walton is the president of CNN.
COOPER: Uh-huh. CARVILLE: Yes, I should have been -- my CNN hat on.
COOPER: You should have called me up. I would have come over there right away and talked to him.
CARVILLE: I should have, right. Yes.
COOPER: What did he say? I mean, what did you say?
CARVILLE: He -- well, I mean, the gist of the conversation was, is that, what could he do -- he asked me, "What can I do to, like, show you that we're really committed to doing this right?"
And I said, you know, we're really skeptical here, that every piece of information we get, we don't trust, and that -- you know, he said, "Well, I'm going to show you in a year that you're wrong.'
I said, "I hope I am wrong. There's nobody in the world that would want to be wrong more."
But what's not going to make me wrong is ads, or newspaper ads, or television ads. That has got nothing to do with anything.
COOPER: You know, Doug, we have been running this counter clock about how much oil has spilled in the Gulf, but, frankly, that's just an estimate.
I mean, we don't really know. The government, weeks ago, finally, after holding onto the 5,000 barrel figure, upped it to 12,000 to 19,000. But now there's -- if you actually read the fine print, that's just kind of part of the estimate. There's a higher part of this estimate.
Do you get the sense that we still understand -- and just today, we just saw this map of possible -- you know, what could happen with oil going up all the Eastern Seaboard. Do you think we still don't have our arms around this thing in terms of how big this could be?
BRINKLEY: Of course we don't.
We're dealing with the largest ecological disaster in American history. It's not an incident. Why is Thad Allen ahead of the incident? It is, as James said, a catastrophe. Let's face what it is and recognize what it is, that American people have gotten so -- it's about money and influence in government.
It's about a foreign company on American soil that's been reckless, and they haven't been held accountable. President Obama has made a couple of great right steps, I think, particularly starting to clean house of MMS. And it's time now for the president to say no to companies. It's hard, because they have the money. But, you know, they were going to mine the Grand Canyon in 1908 for zinc, copper and asbestos. Congress was. And Theodore Roosevelt said, no, it's an heirloom. We're handing it down to our children's children.
We judge -- we're going to be judged 100 years why -- how we take care of America, our landscape and what we have done to the Gulf of Mexico and the Louisiana wetlands.
COOPER: James Carville, good to have you on.
CARVILLE: Thank you.
COOPER: Doug Brinkley, thank you.
COOPER: Well, up next, we continue to follow this operation going on right now deep under the Gulf. We're going to stay live all the way through to the midnight hour on the East Coast, just so we can continue to follow the latest developments.
If -- if this is able to be capped, we know it's a temporary fix. We know oil will still be leaking, but it would be a major development. And we're going to continue to follow it, try to tell you what is happening, even though we don't have real-time information from BP, for some odd reason.
Also coming up tonight, we will show you what we saw today at Grand Isle, stunning images, wildlife dying there, birds just completely coated in oil, gasping for breath. That's what you see in the small part of your screen right there. Hard to tell, I know, those are birds. Those are living animals trying to struggle to stay alive.
Also, what the fishermen are doing to try to keep their income going, keep their livelihood and way of life alive.
Also, later, the explosions, the death, the leak, the environmental destruction notwithstanding, BP has done a lot of boasting about its safety record. We will see how their claims actually match up with the facts.
We're "Keeping Them Honest" -- ahead.
COOPER: Crews try to lower that cap onto the top of BP's leaking well. Unclear so far whether it is working. You are seeing the pictures as we are seeing them. We're going to continue to follow this throughout the night. David Mattingly is trying to check in for the latest information.
The ongoing news, no matter what happens tonight, of course, is that wildlife is choking in oil, and will be for a long time, no matter what happens tonight. Here's what we saw today.
COOPER (voice-over): These are the oil's latest victims, gasping for breath, three birds smothered in crude. They're barely able to move and may not survive. They're boxed up and will be taken to a facility to be cleaned.
A few feet away, we find an oil-soaked pelican also ready for transport. Nearby, several other pelicans still struggle to clean themselves. It's a scene that's because increasingly common on Grand Isle, which has already been transformed by this disaster.
DEAN BLANCHARD, SHRIMPER: What we did is, we had a three-foot (INAUDIBLE) that ran oil for four days, ran the -- ran the oil out. Now the (INAUDIBLE) is coming back the other way. So, for the next five days, it's going to be running the oil back in.
COOPER: Every day, Dean Blanchard goes out on the water to check for himself where the oil is and how the cleanup is going.
(on camera): What do you think about the job that BP is doing? I mean, they're hiring a lot of your -- they're shrimpers.
BLANCHARD: Well, if you can look over here, the boats are tied up. They're not even trying to attack the oil.
COOPER (voice-over): He owns the Blanchard Shrimp Shack. And he buys shrimp from fisherman.
BLANCHARD: That's your Louisiana white shrimp right here.
COOPER: But, with a third of the Gulf off-limits, it can now take days for Grand Isle fishermen to get a decent catch.
BLANCHARD: We should have bought today, on a day like today, about 500,000 pounds of shrimp. And we're going to buy about 30,000.
COOPER (on camera): So, that's enough basically to pay your workers, and that's about it?
BLANCHARD: Yes, not even pay the electric and all. But I have got customers. You know, I have got to keep trying. I ain't got no choice.
COOPER (voice-over): No one, it seems, has a choice here anymore, not the shrimpers, whose way of life has been forever changed, and not the wildlife struggling to survive a disaster they can't possibly escape.
COOPER: Well, we're following a number of other important stories tonight.
Randi Kaye joins us with a 360 bulletin -- Randi.
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, President Obama met today with Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, who signed a controversial immigration law that the president has called misguided.
After the meeting, they said they have agreed to work together to find a solution to the immigration issue.
Joran van der Sloot was arrested in Chile in the death of a 21- year-old woman in Peru. In an unrelated development, he was also charged with extortion and wire fraud in Alabama, Natalee Holloway's home state. Van der Sloot has long been a suspect in the disappearance of Holloway, who vanished during a trip to Aruba back in 2005.
Emmy-winning actress Rue McClanahan has died of a stroke. She was 76. Her most memorable role was as Southern belle Blanche Devereaux on "The Golden Girls."
Maytag is recalling nearly two million dishwashers sold between February 2006 and April 2010 due to a serious fire hazard. Maytag has received a dozen reports of fires, but no injuries so far.
And the worst call ever for Detroit pitcher Armando Galarraga. He was robbed last night of a perfect game when veteran umpire Jim Joyce incorrectly called the Indians' Jason Donald safe at first on an infield single. The ump later teared up and apologized to the pitcher.
Today, Michigan's governor issued a proclamation declaring that he pitched a perfect game, no matter what the record books say -- Anderson.
All right, Randi, thanks very much.
Still ahead, we will talk to David Mattingly about the operation, the very difficult operation which is going on right now as we speak. That's the breaking news tonight, the cap attempting to be put in the stream of oil. We will give you an update as we have it right on the other side of this break.
Also tonight, a CNN exclusive: Kyra Phillips taking us board the drilling rig that is command central for BP's efforts to stop the gusher that is fouling the Gulf. She's the only reporter who has actually been on the rig -- what she saw coming up.
COOPER: CNN exclusive just ahead, Kyra Phillips was in the Gulf, out where they're running the operation to try to cap the leak. We'll talk to her in just a moment.
First, an update on what they are doing down there right now, critical operation under way. Take a look at this picture. Let's try to take that picture full, if we can, just so you can really get the best sense possible. David Mattingly's been following the late developments. He joins us now.
I mean, do we -- do we know any update on what's actually happening?
DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No official update. But look at that. There's an absolute storm of oil down there billowing up around and through the cap that they've just put on. The question now is, how much of that oil, all that oil that's coming out under such force, is that cap going to be able to corral and funnel to the surface? I wish we could sound more optimistic at this point. They did get this cap on. It does seem to be...
COOPER: So, you believe the cap is in place?
MATTINGLY: It appears to be in place, yes.
COOPER: You think that's the cap right there, that object that looks sort of yellowish or goldish?
MATTINGLY: In the past ten minutes or so, I was down in our satellite truck trying to get a closer look of the video feeds. And it does appear that that yellow cap is in place where it's supposed to be. It does appear to be secured. But again, we don't have any official confirmation that that's actually the fact.
Now, so many things that BP has done up to this point, they've explained it, how it's supposed to work, but it's always fallen short and it's always failed. This needs to be the one that BP gets right. Because look at that oil coming out. That's going to continue to come out for quite a while if they don't have a backup ready to go for this one.
COOPER: And again, I don't want to be bashing BP here unnecessarily, but we saw in the top kill operation for 16 hours they didn't inform anybody that, oh, actually, the top kill operation had stopped, you know, when everybody was -- the entire day reporting it was going on.
So they could very easily right now put out a telephone press conference or put out a press release saying what's happening right now. Thad Allen could do the same thing, anyone from the Coast Guard, somebody, an authority who's supposedly in charge of this, could inform the world what is happening right now.
MATTINGLY: Well, we could also ask the same question of the Coast Guard right now, because this has gotten a little bit political in the last 48 hours. There's been an agreement that BP is going to put out two reports each day, one in the morning, one in the afternoon. We saw that today. They said everything was going as planned. Now this is happening, we may not hear from them until tomorrow morning.
COOPER: This is an operation which may affect the entire, you know, future of the Gulf, countless wildlife, countless fishermen's lives and the fact that nobody is putting out real-time information is just mind-boggling to me. I do not understand, after more than a month, where people, you know, talked about the need for transparency, I mean, this is the easiest thing in the world when they have a shuttle operation. There's one guy and a microphone explaining what's going on.
MATTINGLY: Well, the same complaint could be leveled at the U.S. government, which is now the face and the voice of this operation. We haven't heard anything from them.
I was just checking my BlackBerry. We just got a notice from them about wildlife that's being done. There's no mention of this whatsoever. So again...
COOPER: I should just inform anyone from BP or the U.S. government or the Coast Guard who's watching, we'll be on till midnight. We're going to be talking about this. And we would love some real information. So, you -- I don't know, call someone at CNN. We'll call you. You know, the American people deserve to know what's going on.
Clearly, it looks like a large amount of oil. I mean, is this what it is supposed to look like? Are they supposed to, then, lower a cable to attach to the cap?
MATTINGLY: There was a pipe attached to the top of this cap when we saw it earlier today. And maybe it's obscured by the oil. We don't know. We just don't see that pipe attached to it right now. Was there some sort of switch of equipment? Was there some sort of change? These are all questions...
COOPER: You know, this is earlier. This occurred, I'm told, around 9:32 East Coast Time. That there is the cap you see in the center of the screen. That's actually being slowly brought up from the Gulf floor. And you see to the right there, the flow of oil there. So this is them actually moving the cap over. This occurred, well, close to an hour ago now, maybe a little more than an hour ago. This is them actually moving the cap.
MATTINGLY: And watch as they move into that plume. You have an absolute storm of oil erupting right here. And we're still seeing that erupting right now. We -- a couple things we can surmise from that. The cap could be in place. We could have the oil pluming out around it. The cap could be suspended there. But it does seem to be stationary. It does seem to be in the place that it needs to be in.
But, again, we're watching this video, a couple of guys who aren't engineers, trying to figure this out.
COOPER: It's like watching a sign language interpreter and not understanding sign language. It's not that complicated to get someone to explain.
MATTINGLY: Well, there's one thing we can easily understand. This oil is coming out at a rate that's greater than any time we've seen since this disaster. COOPER: Right. That was -- that's actually what caused kind of this split between the Coast Guard and BP in terms of these press conferences. The Coast Guard, effectively the White House, felt that BP engineers were not being up front in saying that, you know, the -- actually, this operation could increase the flow by 20 percent.
MATTINGLY: That was -- that was one of the things that the government had a problem with. The Obama administration felt they weren't being transparent, that they were downplaying the risks that were involved here, because we had independent experts corralled by the government who said it's going to increase possibly up to 20 percent when they cut that riser pipe off.
We did see it increase tremendously. No one has measured it, as far as we know. But, there was a noticeable increase. BP earlier said possibly there wouldn't be any increase at all.
But we know that that riser pipe, the way the kink was in it, where we saw the leaks coming out before, that was forming sort of a back pressure. It was sort of holding some of that oil back. So, when they cut that pipe off, boom, here it all comes.
COOPER: And they have a number of different caps that they could possibly use, depending on the size and shape of the cut made by the shears.
MATTINGLY: Right. They had about a half dozen of these things prepared.
COOPER: So again, we don't know how effective they feel this is being. All we're going on is these pictures. And again, we await any kind of word. We're going to continue to follow this, as I said, for the next hour and 20 minutes, hopefully.
Was there an estimate before this began about when we might get word?
MATTINGLY: We're looking at possibly tomorrow, maybe later, to find out if this cap is working.
COOPER: Well, again, I invite anybody from BP or the government to, you know, inform the American public, and the world, frankly, is watching right now what is occurring. And I can't understand a reason why they wouldn't.
David, appreciate it. We'll continue to check in with David.
CNN's Kyra Phillips scored a major exclusive today. She actually went on board the drilling rig that serves as the base of operations for the effort that's going on right now that you're watching right now. She's the only reporter who's actually been given access in all this time. She joins me now.
What were you actually able to see up there?
KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: I was just listening to you and David Mattingly. And I just tried to make a call in to the admiral. And apparently, everybody's on a conference call right now. So, something could be happening. And usually, when there is a significant development, it's nearly impossible to get anybody on the phone. And I...
COOPER: Why is that? Why is it after six weeks?
PHILLIPS: Let me -- let me try and put it in perspective. After being embedded with him for 48 hours -- I'm going to watch this video along with you to see if I can sort of decipher it with you. And it doesn't look like, from what I'm seeing right now and what I saw aboard the rig, it doesn't look like we're going to have an answer any time soon because of the amount of pressure and the amount of oil that we're seeing here.
PHILLIPS: If, indeed, that cap was on, where it's supposed to be attached and those -- those rubber grommets that are supposed to seal it, we would have a much different picture here. So...
COOPER: Is there cable attached to the cap?
PHILLIPS: There -- they were hoisting -- it is like a cable. They were hoisting the top hat. And here's what's interesting, because you bring up a good point.
When I was on the rig and I was talking to the workers, I tried to get them to explain to me -- I even said to them, you know, we've been asking, the American public has been asking, the entire country has been asking, why can't this happen quicker? And you should see their faces. I mean, they look like they haven't slept in weeks. They haven't slept in weeks.
COOPER: Of course they haven't, yes.
PHILLIPS: And they were explaining, even lowering a top hat, it's like -- it's so incredibly slow and methodical, because you have -- the way everything is shifting, the way everything is coming down with the pressure, with the oil, with the natural gas, you have to -- Anderson, I mean, it's got to be perfect.
PHILLIPS: And you're dealing with a shear cut. So, it's crooked. It's jagged. You know, the diamond wire cutter didn't work...
COOPER: Underwater currents and doing this all through robotic arms. It's ridiculous.
PHILLIPS: It's insane. I saw it for the first time. I saw how slow it is.
COOPER: Again, this is free advice for BP. You know, I'm sure they are eager to hear it from me, but, you know, they have a remarkable story to tell. I mean, the effort that the engineers are putting into this is extraordinary.
COOPER: And they're working around the clock. And I'm sure they are good people. And they, God knows, want this to work. Why they don't tell that story. Why you are the first person in all this time to be allowed out there seems, to me...
PHILLIPS: I'll just give you full...
COOPER: I don't understand. They don't seem to understand transparency.
PHILLIPS: It -- and believe me, there's a lot of things going on behind the scenes. It is a very -- you and I, that's our business, transparency, right? We try to uncover the truth. That's what we do. I mean, that's what we -- we do. We expect people to tell us the truth. If they don't, we go after them.
We are dealing with such -- we're dealing with a company, a private company. We're dealing with military. We're dealing with the White House. There are so many different entities that have different philosophies, different understanding, different training about public relations.
And even Tony Hayward has come forward and said, "OK, I -- that probably was not the right thing to say. OK. Maybe I should have done this." It seems like there is a constant learning curve here.
And for full transparency, I was the first reporter there, and I was able to broadcast live, because I go years back with Admiral Thad Allen. I mean, we've covered disasters together. He's trusted me. I trust him. We've covered sensitive subjects. And he facilitated this, bottom line, Anderson. That's why I was there.
COOPER: Yes. Well, good for you. I mean, it's great to actually be able to see what is happening out there. What surprised you most?
PHILLIPS: Well, as soon as we touched down and got onto that rig, I wanted to get a better understanding -- you know how we have to become very quick learners. This was one of the most complex technical things I have ever come across.
PHILLIPS: So, I took a moment, and I said to the admiral, "OK, just try to explain to me what's happening right where we're standing." Here's what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The real focus right now is to get that containment cap in place below the Discovery Enterprise. We'll be drilling the two relief wells. The first one is on the DD3 that we're on right now. PHILLIPS: And let's make that connection. As they're working to get that top hat right now to seal that gusher, how does this relief well, how is it going to benefit?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The relief well is being drilled right below us, going down. It's going to be angled over. Somewhere between 16,000 and 18,000 feet below the sea floor it will intersect the well bore. At that point, it will start pumping heavy mud in to drive the oil hydrocarbons down towards the reservoir to stabilize it so they can put a plug in or do what they call a bottom kill. After that's done, there should be no pressure below the blowout preventer. That will allow them to actually remove and cap the well, bring the blowout preventer up and do forensic analysis on it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: That's what amazes -- learning from that, I mean, 18,000 -- these relief wells that they're digging that they say may not be ready until early August, at least the first one, and there's two being dug, it's actually going down 18,000 feet right above the reservoir of oil. I mean, what we're looking at now, these images are about 5,000 feet. So those relief wells are going to 18,000 feet. That's extraordinary.
PHILLIPS: And look at how complicated it is at 5,000 feet.
PHILLIPS: OK. Now, triple that.
PHILLIPS: And imagine what they're dealing with.
And you brought up an interesting point, too, about these workers. They have a story to tell. Can I tell you something? When -- as soon as I got on that rig, just looking at their faces, I saw a combination of things. I saw panic. I saw, "Oh, my gosh, why is she here? Why are the cameras here?"
As soon as I said, "I want your side of the story. No one's heard from you. Tell me what it's like. Tell me about this operation. Speak to me. That's all I want to know."
PHILLIPS: They gave me full access.
PHILLIPS: They had no problem telling me how they're not sleeping, that it doesn't matter. Their No. 1 goal is to take care of this. They've got relatives on these rigs that...
COOPER: They live in the community.
PHILLIPS: Yes. These are -- these are -- they're from all these states.
COOPER: Right, absolutely.
PHILLIPS: And they're doing everything possible.
COOPER: Right. And my point is only that BP management has done a disservice to their employees by not allowing that story to get out. And by slapping -- you know, putting a gag order on every single employee they have, making them sign agreements not to talk to the media, even something like, gosh, how hard is did for you to work on this beach, cleaning this oil up? They are doing a disservice to their employees, because what many of their employees are doing is extraordinary. They're working around the clock, as you saw. And I'm glad you were able to get out there to see it.
We've got to take a quick break.
COOPER: I want to talk more about this. Because you also saw some of the efforts they're doing to try to combat some of the...
PHILLIPS: The toxic fumes.
COOPER: The toxic fumes.
COOPER: We want to talk about that in a moment.
We're going to have more with Kyra ahead.
Coping with the disaster: the mental health impact from the spill, as we continue to watch this live operation. We'll talk to Dr. Sanjay Gupta and others. We'll be right back.
COOPER: We continue to follow this, breaking developments deep under the Gulf. And as I've been bemoaning, basically my own lack of technical know-how. We're actually in our next hour going to be live to the midnight hour, have a number of engineers who actually know what is going on from watching these images. And some of the very people who have been studying the flow rate will be joining us to talk about what these images mean. So stick with us all throughout this next hour. I'll have a lot of information about what is actually happening right now.
It is, as we know, no matter what happens tonight, the worst oil disaster in our nation's history. And it is getting worse by the day. Even if this cap works tonight, more oil is still going to be coming out. And it is getting worse by the day, as I said.
We can show you the proof. It's at the center -- it's at a center in Louisiana, the only place in the state that's treating all these birds that -- when they get injured in the spill. When the leak first started, just a couple of birds were being brought in. But now the numbers are rising and rising dramatically over the last several days.
Gary Tuchman reports.
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This animal is basically unrecognizable. But it's a small gull, the latest bird that has come in contact with the BP oil.
We're at a makeshift intensive care unit for birds. This fearful-looking brown pelican is being cleaned in a warehouse by trained workers in the town of Burris, Louisiana. All oiled birds in the state are now being brought here.
JAY HOLCOMB, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, INTERNATIONAL BIRD RESCUE RESEARCH CENTER: What happens is these birds tend to plunge feed for fish. The fish swim under the oil. The birds don't know what it is, and then they get covered.
TUCHMAN (on camera): It's quite stunning when you take your first look at a bird that has just been brought in. Inside this compartment here is a brown pelican that was just found a short time ago, taken on a boat to the facility. It was found in the Gulf of Mexico near Grand Isle, Louisiana, southwest of New Orleans. And you can see, he's completely covered.
(voice-over) In the first month after this disaster, a total of only about 60 birds were brought here. But the pace is suddenly accelerating.
HOLCOMB: We're probably going to end up over 30 birds by the end of the day.
TUCHMAN: So this is a turning point?
HOLCOMB: This is the turning point, yes.
TUCHMAN: The oil prevents the birds from flying. It means they can't eat. Their body temperatures drop.
HOLCOMB: Some of the worst oiled looking birds are some of the ones that have a best chance. The reason only is they were captured really fast. They were picked up -- this little gull was picked up out of the water today. They didn't have a chance to sit there and (UNINTELLIGIBLE). If we can get them stable and have nutrition go in, get them washed really soon, there's a good chance for them.
TUCHMAN (on camera): And this is Pelican Island, the final stop after the birds are cleaned off. We'll take you inside. You will see the brown pelicans are remarkably passive. It's almost like a spa. They have a swimming pool. There's about four, five, six, seven -- two more here. They have a nice supply of fish to dine on. And these brown pelicans are all ready to go back into the wild. They'll be here until the weekend. Then the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service picks them up, and they'll be flown on a plane to the Tampa Bay area. That's where they'll become free.
(voice-over) Just before we leave, another brown pelican is brought in, drenched in oil, as bad as any bird these experts have seen. It's going to be a busy night in the life and death struggle for so many birds.
COOPER: You know, it's so interesting. I mean, we happened to be out in Grand Isle today, saw all these birds being brought in. So this really does seem to be, according to the man you talked to, a turning point.
TUCHMAN: This is a turning point. And the birds that you saw on Grand Isle were brought several hours later to this place. And that's where they are right now. They're working on them as we speak.
COOPER: And so, is there -- is there a sense of what percentage of birds can be saved that are brought in? I mean, I guess it totally depends on how much oil.
TUCHMAN: It really depends. As he said it's really important they're brought in quickly. Because if they're not brought in quickly, they're just stuck in the Gulf of Mexico. They can't eat. Their body temperature goes down. They won't survive. So this is their only chance of survival, that they were lucky enough to be found and brought to the center.
COOPER: I know we have a Text 360 question. This is from Kimberly. She wants to know, "Can't the birds be captured en masse before they're oiled and relocated to somewhere safe like Georgia?"
TUCHMAN: I'm glad Kimberly is a bird lover. And it would be great if all these birds just knew to flew -- fly away for a little while. But the problem is there's thousands and thousands and thousands of bird.
And even if you were going to take a couple hundred birds and fly them somewhere else, it just wouldn't be practical, and it's very difficult for birds to travel. You don't want them to have them travel if they don't have to.
So therefore, you've just got to hope they don't get stuck in the oil.
Before we go, though, I do want to say something personal to you. This area, the New Orleans area, we love it. We just love it very much. Particularly you, your history here. And it's a very sad time. But what I must emphasize is, that it's so appropriate that on today, June 3, that you are here. Because today, June 3, is Anderson Cooper's birthday. All of us want to wish Anderson a very happy birthday. COOPER: All right. Thank you very much.
TUCHMAN: I lost track of how old you are.
TUCHMAN: All right.
COOPER: Thanks very much, Gary.
All right. Again we continue to follow the breaking developments from deep beneath the Gulf of Mexico. We'll go live for the next hour, as well. A quick update, next.
COOPER: We're following breaking news tonight from the Gulf. Right now as we speak, crews trying to attach that cap to the top of BP's leaking well. They lowered the cap into the oil stream just moments ago. We're back with David Mattingly and Kyra Phillips.
So again, at this point, we're not sure if the cap is fully in place or not, correct?
MATTINGLY: Right. And what we do know is that oil that's coming out of there is a real force to be reckoned with. I mean, I really was amazed that they were able to get it at least into position, the cap into position as quickly as they did, because that is a hurricane of oil coming out of there.
COOPER: You actually have some oil. This is oil.
MATTINGLY: This is stuff I collected from the Louisiana marshes. And it's thick. It's like chocolate syrup. And when it's coming out, look at that, when it's coming out with a force like that down below, under all that pressure, that's really something they're going to have to fight.
Now, you see this coats everything it touches. They're spraying dispersant down there while they've got this going, trying to break it up.
COOPER: It's really thick. I mean, I've stuck my hand in it a couple times, without a glove even. And it's very -- I mean, it's hot and it's very, very thick.
MATTINGLY: Right. Out there in the open like that, it collects the heat from the sun all day. Even if it's not going to kill the plant on contact, the heat alone from it is going to kill whatever's around it.
COOPER: You were out there today, Kyra. I mean, are they optimistic, or at this point, you know, is optimism something they can't afford?
PHILLIPS: Yes. I mean, that's a great question. I will tell you, the admiral and a number of the workers said, "Well, this is the most positive moment to this moment." So, they are putting a lot of hope into what has happened thus far.
And you talk about the thickness of this oil and the toxic fumes, when you get to the site, ten minutes out, it's so strong. It's like fresh tar.
PHILLIPS: And they have the water boats out there to try and water -- exactly, to try and lessen the threat of those toxic fumes, because there's so many workers, just hundreds of workers.
COOPER: We're going live into this next hour all the way to the midnight hour on the East Coast. We'll continue to talk to correspondents. Also, engineers who are judging this flow rate and watching this, as well. We'll talk to them for some in-depth analysis of what exactly is happening right now.
The attempt to cap the leak goes on. We'll be right back.