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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Oil Spill Gulf Coast Catastrophe; Rescuing Wildlife from Oil Spill; Survivors of the Oil Rig Explosion Speak Out
Aired June 8, 2010 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: In the last 50 days of this disaster, we have seen a lot of examples of BP's lack of transparency, low balling the size of the leak, not mentioning they had paused the top kill procedure for 16 hours and making workers sign non-disclosure agreements.
But today, perhaps the most blatant show of non-transparency yet from BP. Tonight, for the first time you're seeing high resolution HD images of BP oil gushing into the Gulf. What you're also looking at is new evidence that BP still isn't being transparent; still isn't coming clean.
What happened today is frankly hard to comprehend. Take look at these pictures, these HD video images of the leak on Thursday, just after the pipe was sheared to fit the containment cap. Now look at the high and low resolution versions, the version we've all been seeing for weeks side by side; a huge difference, especially with an HDTV.
With the new video, you can really see the individual swirls of oil and gas as they stream into the sea. What is stunning about this is not that we are just seeing this video today for the first time as reporters or citizens. It's that scientists who are trying to accurately measure the flow of oil, they say they are just seeing it for the first time today.
So this is the sort of information that government experts say they have needed to accurately measure the leak size. And as you're going to hear in a moment, one scientist we spoke to says he just got the video today.
This is day 50 of the disaster, day 50 of the largest oil spill in American history; a spill that is changing the lives of hundreds of thousands of people all across this Gulf, but especially right now in Louisiana. It took lawmakers demanding this video for BP to actually release it.
And remember, it took BP weeks after the spill just to release the low quality video in the first place. And by the way, the top researcher you're about to hear from will also say there's no reason to think the leak isn't a lot larger than the 12,000 to 25,000 barrels a day BP and the government are now estimating, no reason to think it's not 100,000 barrels. Tonight, the House Committee on Natural Resources provided us information from BP's own filings with federal regulators before the well was drilled putting the worst case scenario and a spill at a quarter million barrels a day.
Those are BP's old estimates of course. They're not giving any estimate about how much is coming out now. They still seem to think it doesn't matter. It's what they've said all along, that they're more interested in fixing the leak than knowing about how much is coming out. That's been the line they've used for weeks.
What we can't figure out and what doesn't make sense, I think to a lot of folks is how can you fix the leak without knowing how much is actually leaking out?
Also tonight, breaking news, BP just now putting out a statement denying the existence of underwater oil plumes even as researchers say they keep finding hard evidence that they do exist. Plus, the government reporting more oil being caught by the collection cap; and again, not the most useful figure without knowing the size of the leak.
President Obama today saying if BP CEO Tony Hayward worked for him, he'd have been fired by now. And on Capitol Hill, a tearful message for Mr. Hayward from a brother of one of the 11 killed aboard that rig.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS JONES, BROTHER OF KILLED OIL WORKER: I want to take this opportunity to address recent remarks made by Tony Hayward, CEO of BP. In particular, he publicly stated he wants his life back.
Well, Mr. Hayward, I want my brother's life back. And I know the families of the other ten men want their lives back. We will never get Gordon's life back and his wife will live a life without a husband and her two children, a life without a father.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: His brother was Gordon Jones. That was Chris Jones testifying before lawmakers. We had him on the program a few weeks ago. Gordon Jones was a mud engineer aboard that rig, one of the 11 men who died, their bodies haven't been found. No bodies left after that inferno.
Working to raise the amount -- that's why they were on Capitol Hill today testifying -- working to raise the amount that BP would have to pay for the disaster.
Later tonight and only on this program: some of his brother's co- workers on the warning signs they say they saw before the rig blew.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DANIEL BARRON III, BP EXPLOSION SURVIVOR: Safety is only convenient for them when they need it. You know, you're pressured and pushed to do things. And if you say, hey, you know, everybody has the right to call time out for safety. But you do it you're going to get fired.
COOPER: So if you raise -- you're saying if you raise too many safety concerns, they're going to get rid of --
BARRON: They'll find a reason to get rid of you easily.
COOPER: And you've seen that happen?
BARRON: Yes, I have, actually. Yes, I have.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: That's later on in the program and it's a "360 Exclusive". We sat down with five survivors from the rig.
But first, how much oil is leaking and the frankly amazing fact that the people trying to find out are only getting these high resolution pictures of the leak today and only after lawmakers raised hell to get it.
I spoke earlier tonight with a member of the government's flow rate panel. His name is Ira Leifer. He's with the Marine Science Institute of the University of California Santa Barbara.
COOPER: Do you believe that as much as 100,000 barrels could still be leaking out into the Gulf a day?
IRA LEIFER, UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, SANTA BARBARA: Ok. I have not seen anything in the data that I have looked at, in my calculations and analysis that indicates BP's worst-case analysis -- 100,000 barrels flowing freely from a pipe sticking out of the seabed, is not occurring now. It may be worse. It may be better.
The key is actually to do science and measurements, so we know what it is, so that decisions on -- based on this are actually informed, and can be most effective, instead of potentially making things worse.
COOPER: There's high-resolution video images, have you had access to those? Because BP says they have been supplying those images to scientists.
LEIFER: The first truly high-quality images that we have received, I have only seen a screen capture of it, and it is uploading even as we speak now.
However, in the --
COOPER: So, just today?
LEIFER: Just today. Now, in the previous -- they finally presented us with video data from the ROV, and not some copies of that data. And -- but, still, they're -- they're -- the quality is somewhat problematic for the type of analysis that we're trying to do.
COOPER: Does that make any sense to you? I mean, this is a company which has said they want to be transparent. And, I mean, you -- you guys are tasked by the U.S. government to try to figure out the flow rate. Why would they be throwing up obstacles in your way? Why would they be -- not giving you the best video as soon as possible?
LEIFER: I -- I honestly do not know why.
I share your puzzlement that a company with such obvious, extremely high technological capability for getting oil out of very difficult places like this area 5,000 feet below the sea surface has had problems getting us the type of data that they now start providing.
But that -- that clearly is the case. And it has -- it has been a source of frustration in the past. And I think I can speak for everyone on the team that, if we do get the data in a timely manner, our role and our ability to provide good numbers to aid in decision- making will be greatly improved.
COOPER: So, when Tony Hayward, on Sunday, says to a British media outlet that, with the capping operation that they have under way now and the other operation they have -- they hope to do by the end of this week, that they're going to be able to capture virtually all of the oil, from what you're saying is, that -- that does not sound accurate?
LEIFER: The data that we have does not prove that that statement is -- is correct.
COOPER: Professor Leifer, I appreciate your time. Thank you.
LEIFER: Bye now.
COOPER: Just a quick clarification: Professor Leifer mentioned 100,000 barrels a day as BP's worst case scenario.
In fact, as we mentioned at the top, BP stated 250,000 barrels a day as a worst-case in government filings long before this -- this well actually exploded.
Let's turn now to one of the lawmakers who actually pressured BP into releasing the high-resolution video. It wouldn't have happened if it wasn't for this guy, just as the original video wouldn't have been released if it wasn't for Congressman Ed Markey of Massachusetts.
I spoke to him early. And, this being New Orleans, there was something background going on in the background. There was some music playing. So, if you hear that, you will understand. You're probably already familiar with the railroad crossing bell sound as well. This time, it was calliope music, I'm told.
Anyway, take a look. Here's the interview.
COOPER: Congressman, I just talked to Professor Leifer, who is on the -- the flow rate team that is trying to analyze how much oil is actually coming out. And he told me something that just stunned me, that today is the first day he's actually seeing high-resolution video from this well that -- that BP has just released.
I mean, this is day 50 of the disaster. Does that make any sense to you?
REP. EDWARD MARKEY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: It makes no sense at all, which is why I demanded today that BP release the high-definition video.
It's almost as though they think we're still living in an analog world, not a digital world. And the clarity of the picture obviously is key to determining how big the spill is, and, as a result, how big the response has to be, in terms of the protections which are put in place for the people who live in the Gulf.
So, this is just one more example from four weeks ago, five weeks ago, when I demanded that they -- that they put up the video the first time, to today, when I had to demand that they put it up in high- definition, so that the scientists can make precise determinations as to how big this oil spill is going to become.
COOPER: Right. I mean, that's the thing the American people need to understand. They wouldn't -- no one would be able to have seen this video if it wasn't for you and the efforts of others on Capitol Hill to get this video released.
But -- but this question of this high-resolution video, I mean, this isn't just something that reporters want to see because the pictures are better so we can show people at home. I mean, this would have an impact on the ability of scientists to actually accurately study the flow of oil. I mean, this is crucially important.
MARKEY: The top scientists in the United States and around the world are ready to work on helping to solve this problem. BP keeps denying that information to other experts that can ensure that the size of the spill and, as a result, the size of the response, is accurate.
And so this is just one more example of where BP just stands for betraying the people. They have done it from the beginning, and they are continuing right up until today.
COOPER: BP says they have been releasing high-resolution video as early as the week of May 24th.
Are you aware of any scientist, independent scientist, who's actually seen that video before today? MARKEY: No.
Independent scientists have not had access to that video. That's why I requested -- I demanded that they release the high-resolution footage today.
COOPER: Did you even know about this video before you read about scientists talking about it in the press? I mean, that's -- that's the first time I read about it today. Did you know this video even existed?
MARKEY: I did not.
I assumed that, by this late date, that BP would finally decide that honesty was the best policy. But again, this is a pattern of conduct that goes back to the very first week, when they denied that they had already conducted an analysis which showed that the spill was 1,000 to 14,000 barrels. They maintained it was only 1,000 barrels.
And now we know that it's not 14,000 barrels either, or 15,000, or probably 20,000, but even higher. It's all part of BP's attempts to, one, lower the amount of penalty which they are going to have to pay, because they are fined per barrel of oil per day, and two, limit their ultimate damages, because the size of the spill will determine how much, ultimately, they are going to have to pay.
COOPER: So, you think this is about money? This is an -- you believe that this is an effort on their part to just, you know, throw up as many roadblocks as they can, try to slow things down as much as they can in terms of investigation, so, ultimately, they can reduce the amount of money they are going to have to pay?
MARKEY: I do believe that BP has been about their legal team from the first week. I think it's clear in retrospect. It's clear even this week, with regard to this high-resolution video. The lawyers are giving them advice with regard to a strategy to minimize their ultimate liability to the government of our country and to the people of the United States.
COOPER: Congressman Ed Markey, appreciate your time. Thank you, sir.
MARKEY: Thank you.
COOPER: Of course, the calliope stopped playing as soon as the interview was over. And I know I said calliope before. And I apologize. It's been a long day.
More new information we're just getting tonight -- we have just come across a BP document from 2009, what the company called its Gulf of Mexico regional oil spill response plan. Ironically, in the first chapter, the plan says that the company should locate the spill and determine the size and volume of the spill. That's among the first steps: determine the size and volume of the spill; looks like they broke from the protocol on that one.
BP might not want to know how much oil is coming out, but we certainly do. We noticed today that, as clear as the new video is, there's really no sense of scale, no easy way of judging how big the pipe is or the cloud of oil spraying out of it.
Tom Foreman has got the answer to that problem. He found it, actually, in the hardware store.
It looks like you made a stele (ph) here. What is this?
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We spent a little time working on this today.
FOREMAN: But this really does help illustrate this problem, the very thing you've been talking about, Anderson.
At first, there were legitimate reasons why it was hard to estimate the flow of oil. And you can see in this model we have made that when the rig collapsed, it twisted the pipe coming out from the blowout preventer.
COOPER: Is this an accurate representation of the size --
FOREMAN: This is a little small for the pipe.
FOREMAN: This is right for the top of the blowout preventer.
FOREMAN: Remember, when you see that blowout preventer --
FOREMAN: -- that's a 50-foot-tall piece of equipment.
FOREMAN: It looks small on the video.
COOPER: So, the top of the blowout preventer, the diameter is about the same as this garbage can?
FOREMAN: Is as big as this, that's right.
So, what this did, when it twisted this all up, it allowed leaks all in here. And so it was coming out in different places, pouring out, difficult in that circumstance. So, when the government said and BP said it's 1,000 gallons a day -- or 1,000 barrels a day, nobody could say otherwise, because how would we know? There are too many different sources. It's all twisted up.
Then the scientific community looked at the spill above and said, this has got to be more than that. So, they upped it to 5,000 barrels a day.
FOREMAN: And then people still kept saying, something is wrong with that. Then, BP started saying, well look, maybe half of what's coming out of here is natural gas, not just oil, so it looks bigger than it is. Maybe the fact that we have a drill bit broken off inside here is helping block some of the flow here.
But then all of that changed, Anderson. And it changed with that one big event from a few days back. Remember when they came in? They did the big cut.
COOPER: Yes. Right.
And so what changed then? I mean, how did that -- what did that make the difference -- why did that make the difference, that they cut --
FOREMAN: They came in. Right. They said we can't contain it here. You can't get a container over all of these different leaks. So, what we're going to do is, we're going to cut it off down here. They did the big cutoff, like this. This went away.
And now this is what you're left with.
COOPER: This is like a kid's science project we're watching.
FOREMAN: This is like a kid's science project.
But this is the size of the pipe we're talking about.
COOPER: So, this is an actual representation of the actual diameter of this?
FOREMAN: Yes, this is how big this thing is. This thing is enormous. And this is -- you know, you have got a garbage can in your garage? That's the size we're talking about. Previously, this was like a really leaky garden hose. It was bad, but it was still holding back some of the flow.
With that gone, now you have uninterrupted flow, once they sheared off that bent pipe. Now the question becomes, how much more is coming out of this? Some of the experts said this increased the flow by 20 percent.
FOREMAN: Some said it was more than 20 percent.
Ira Leifer, the professor who is actually working on this, says that he thinks it's way more than 20 percent.
FOREMAN: Yes, exactly. And that's the problem.
So, the truth is, now, you have a better hope of this. But the official government estimate right now -- and these are people who originally said 1,000 barrels day.
FOREMAN: Now they're saying it's somewhere between 12,000 and 19,000 barrels a day. Yesterday, BP collected 14,000 of that with the cap they installed over this.
FOREMAN: But the bottom line, Anderson, is, after all these weeks of study, looking at satellite images and everything else --
FOREMAN: -- they still don't know how much is coming out of this pipe.
FOREMAN: And, so, however much we're collecting, well, we don't know how much that means.
COOPER: In fact, Thad Allen on Sunday used the figure upwards of 25,000 barrels, so 12,000 to 25,000 barrels. That -- that was the first day I heard him using that figure.
FOREMAN: That's right.
COOPER: But he -- but -- but, again, this other group that is still analyzing the flow rate said that they didn't have enough information. There were three different groups analyzing the flow rate.
One of them said they didn't have enough information to accurately give the upper end of it. They agreed the lower end was 12,000 to 25,000. So, they're still trying to estimate the upper end. That's who we talked to earlier.
COOPER: Hopefully, by the end of this week, maybe the beginning of next week, they are going to have what they believe is the upper end. But, again, they say it could be multiple times bigger.
FOREMAN: Yes, we hear 12,000 to 25,000, we think 12,000 is the bottom, 25,000 is the top.
COOPER: Right. They think that's the -- the conservative, low estimate.
FOREMAN: Twelve thousand to 25,000 is the range at the bottom.
COOPER: Right, the range at the bottom.
FOREMAN: And who knows what the top might be?
COOPER: Exactly. That is what is of such concern.
Tom, appreciate it. Thanks. You can use this use as a moonshine --
FOREMAN: Thanks so much.
COOPER: All right. Let us know what you think. The live chat is up and running at AC360.com.
Up next, we're going to update our breaking news: BP denying the existence of massive underwater clouds of oil.
And, later, the race against time and tides to save wildlife caught in the slick. Is enough being done? Organizationally, is it working? We will check that out.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR, "SITUATION ROOM": I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington
Blanche Lincoln, the incumbent Democratic Senator in Arkansas has won. Right now she has 51.8 percent of the vote, 48 percent for Bill Halter. He has conceded. Blanche Lincoln will be the Democratic nominee for the Senate. She'll face Republican Congressman John Boozman in November.
Much more coming up.
Now back to ANDERSON COOPER 360.
COOPER: If you're just joining us, and if you have an HD monitor, I mean, look at these remarkable, horrifying, high- resolution, HD images of the leak, video that BP only now was releasing, 50 days into this disaster -- and not just to us.
I mean, it's not just reporters being upset that they're not getting all the pictures, just releasing this to independent scientists who are tasked by the government to study the flow of this oil. They just got these images today.
The breaking news also tonight that BP is denying this oil is forming into massive undersea clouds of oil, despite the fact that NOAA today said they do, yes, exist. The whole thing has kind of a lot of people scratching their heads yet again tonight.
Joining us on the phone is oil researcher with the group Oceana Dr. Jeffrey Short.
So Dr. Short, BP admitted today that -- quote -- "There is some oil in the water column in low concentrations," but they still say the data so far -- and, again, quote -- "doesn't support the existence of plumes."
Do you buy that?
DR. JEFFREY SHORT, OIL RESEARCHER, OCEANA (via telephone): I do not. There is very clear evidence put forward and confirmed by NOAA today that there are fairly extensive plumes of subsurface oil that extend up to 42 miles away from the origin.
COOPER: So, why would BP say that?
SHORT: Boy, I am astonished and disappointed that they are saying that. It seems like they are -- are trying to downplay where the oil might go and what it might do at every turn.
COOPER: Is this just sort of a semantic argument over the word plume? I mean, why do some scientists have no problem calling what is happening under the surface plumes, but others seems -- seem to avoid it?
SHORT: I -- I am not sure.
The physics underlying the formation of these dispersions underwater is very clear, and should be a surprise to no one. It's true that the word "plume" used by NOAA and other scientists refers to a fairly low concentration of oil in the water column. You know, it's not like it's a continuous slick of oil down there. It's a highly dispersed plume of oil micro-droplets.
But, nonetheless, it's -- you know, I think "plume" is the correct word.
COOPER: And I guess, I mean, what BP is saying is that it's not proven that this underwater low-density oil concentrations come from this well.
SHORT: The information released by NOAA today suggests otherwise, and, in fact, clearly indicates otherwise.
There's a biomarker fingerprint region of oil analysis that matches the source oil from the DeepWater Horizon.
COOPER: You worked for NOAA for 31 years. Are you proud of how they have been handling the response to this spill?
SHORT: Overall, I'm very proud of it. I think they have made all the right calls. They have done all the right things.
I'm disappointed in how they have been -- their ability to communicate the results of what they're doing with the public has been so limited. But part of that, at least, is due to the fact that they're just overwhelmed with putting studies in the field, and they're getting massive information back.
And they have been undergoing budget cuts for the last eight years in the people who do this stuff. So, their -- their staff to deal with it has -- has eroded substantially.
COOPER: Is there another step to proving to BP that these plumes exist, or proving just without a reasonable doubt that -- that these exist?
SHORT: Yes, get them to take a high school or a college physics course.
COOPER: That's all it would take, you're saying?
SHORT: You know -- well, this isn't -- this isn't a big mystery. The physics underlying this has been known for 150 years.
It should be a surprise to nobody that plumes form underwater and that they disperse. There are -- there are underwater seeps in the Gulf of Mexico that never make it to the surface.
So, when Hayward came out and said that -- that this can't be because oil floats, and so it can't be down there, that -- that's just plain wrong.
COOPER: Dr. Jeffrey Short, I appreciate your expertise tonight. Thank you very much.
SHORT: Thank you for having me.
COOPER: Just ahead tonight: the search for wildlife before the oil that invaded their habitat takes their lives.
Also, oil rig survivors talking about the signs of trouble they say they saw before the disaster.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARRON: There was always like an ominous feeling when we were on that well. You know, and a lot of people were telling everybody else, you know, on the rig, there was a chatter that, you know, we're messing with Mother Nature right now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: You're looking at new high-resolution images of the oil gusher at the bottom of the Gulf, a cliff -- a clip from a feed that BP has kept to itself until just today.
This clip shows the ruptured well last Thursday, before the cap was put on. Now, BP only released the clip today, and only after lawmakers gave them hell.
Meantime, we're tracking the toll the oil spill is taking on wildlife. We were out on boats all day today. That's why I'm all burned.
According to the latest official numbers, nearly 600 birds, 250 sea turtles have been found dead so far, although accurate numbers -- frankly, who knows how many have actually died?
We wanted to go up close to show you what is being done to find these animals before it's too late, though we did not get as close as we wanted, for reasons you will see.
COOPER (voice-over): Each day they set out, wildlife officials and bird rescuers, searching the marsh islands near Grand Isle, prime breeding ground for brown pelicans.
RON BRITTON, U.S. FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE: There've been reports this morning that there are birds in the area. And what they're trying to do is identify those that they might have a really good chance at running on and capturing.
COOPER: Ron Britton is with the federal Fish and Wildlife Service. They wouldn't allow us to be in the boat with officials actually capturing the birds, but agreed to let us follow along from a distance.
(on camera): In order to find birds, wildlife officials will check a couple of different signs. They will -- they will look at the condition of a boom in an area, see how much oil is on it and whether or not it's fresh oil.
There's a lot of oil on these booms, but it doesn't necessarily look all that fresh. There is a lot of oil on the rocks here on this outcropping. So, any birds who are nesting in this area or staying in this area have likely come in contact with some level of oil.
(voice-over): Over the last few days, dozens of birds have been found covered in oil around Grand Isle.
(on camera): So, there's been a big uptick over the last couple of days in the number of birds they're finding.
COOPER: But you said it can kind of go in waves or pulses?
BRITTON: Right. As you get fresh oil in on a beach, if it's not a continual oiling, you're going to have a real high number that get into it right away and initially.
COOPER: High number of birds.
BRITTON: A high number of birds that are going to get into it initially.
And what you're trying to do is get in and get those as quick as you can. But the ones you're missing have, you know, less chance each night you can't get back. And, so, there is a tailing off. And the ones that we don't get, we're pretty sure are going somewhere and not -- not surviving.
And then -- and then it will tail off, and you will have what looks like relatively unoiled conditions for a while or spot oiling and that kind of thing, until there's another pulse of oil or until you move to another area that has had heavy oiling.
COOPER (voice-over): Three hundred and fifty-four oiled birds have been found alive in Louisiana so far. No accurate number exists for how many may have already died.
(on camera): And what does oil do to pelicans? What's the danger?
BRITTON: Oil -- there would be the -- there would be the exterior oiling and just the -- the -- the reduction of thermoregulation. And there would be the internal through preening. They could get some internal injury from preening.
COOPER: So, they could actually -- by -- by preening, cleaning themselves, they could actually ingest oil?
BRITTON: They would ingest oil preening.
COOPER: And, on their feathers and skin, it -- it affects their body temperature?
BRITTON: It would -- it has more of an effect on their body temperature by -- by -- the feathers interlock and interlace to help them either regulate cool or hot. And they won't -- they lose that ability.
COOPER (voice-over): Today, there are about 165 people authorized to go out and help birds in 52 boats, according to federal officials. But Ron Britton admits he would like to get more.
BRITTON: We're trying to figure out what -- what we can do to keep this moving forward and expanding.
Yesterday, we had 145. The day before, we had 128, so we're getting 20, 25 people additionally. I have asked them to hold it at 165 for a little while, while we make sure that we can back them up and we get the logistical support.
One of the issues we're running into is lodging. We want to make sure that everybody has a place to stay.
COOPER: After searching for about an hour, they locate one young pelican and are able to catch him. They decide to head to shore so he could be cleaned immediately. (on camera): We'd like to be able to show you the one bird that wildlife officials found when we were out on the water with them, but we're not able to because we're not allowed to actually go over there and shoot the bird being taken off the boat. I'm not exactly sure why.
Federal wildlife officials have told us that they don't want to do anything to upset the bird or upset birds or get in the way of anybody. We explained that we wouldn't be getting in anybody's way. But they wouldn't let us go to actually see the bird that they got off the water today.
(voice-over): Last week, however, those rules weren't in place, and we saw these three gulls being brought ashore. Completely covered in oil, they gasped for breath, unable to move.
Exactly why federal officials now make it impossible to get pictures like this is not clear to us. This is the reality of what oil does to birds. This is the reality everyone should be able to see.
COOPER: I've got to say, it was very frustrating to be that close and, for some reason, not be able to, you know, walk ten feet. And actually, you know, we're not planning on getting in anyone's way. We just want to get a picture of the birds, to kind of accurately show you what is going on.
We do want to say, there's a lot of hard-working federal and state, local officials here, you know, doing the best they can, working long hours.
But I've heard a lot of complaints from people who didn't want to appear on camera, but were working in this operation who say organizationally, there's a lot of bureaucracy. A federal official has to be with a state official in these boats, as well as perhaps sometimes a BP official, as well as a bird expert who's going out to actually -- for the search. There's a lot of folks who'd like to try to streamline this as much as possible. We'll have more on that in the coming weeks.
Much more on the Gulf ahead tonight. We're also following primaries and run-off elections in a dozen states tonight. How will anti-incumbent fever factor in? We'll bring you the results as they come in. We'll check in with Wolf Blitzer.
Plus, new details tonight about the alleged murder confession that guy, Joran Van Der Sloot, made to authorities in Peru.
BLITZER: I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington; a big night in politics tonight. Let's got to Arkansas first. In Arkansas, the incumbent Democrat, Blanche Lincoln has won the race; Bill Halter the lieutenant-governor has conceded. She will go on to be the Democratic nominee.
In South Carolina right now, the Republican gubernatorial contest, Nikki Haley got 48.9 percent, she needed 50 percent plus 1 in order to avoid a runoff. She'll face a runoff in two weeks against Gresham Barrett unless he decides to drop out.
In Nevada right now, results are just beginning to come in; three-person race for the Republican senatorial nomination. Right now, Sharron Angle is ahead with 21 percent of the vote.
We're also waiting for numbers coming in from California. We'll heavy a full hour of election results at the top of the hour; a special "LARRY KING LIVE".
I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington. ANDERSON COOPER 360 continues right now.
COOPER: Hey, Wolf, thanks very much. We'll look forward to that.
Just ahead, my exclusive interview with the survivors of the DeepWater Horizon explosion. They describe the argument -- two of them describe the argument that they said they witnessed on the day the rig blew up. What were BP and TransOcean officials fighting about? We'll hear from them.
But first, Gary Tuchman joins us with 360 "News and Business Bulletin" -- Gary.
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hello, Anderson.
Authorities in Peru say Joran Van Der Sloot has confessed to killing Stephany Flores. They say he told them he did it because she found information on his laptop connecting him to the disappearance of Natalee Holloway. Stephany Flores' body was found last week in Van Der Sloot's Lima hotel room.
General Motors is recalling nearly a million a half vehicles because of a glitch in the heated windshield/washer fluid system. It's a potential fire hazard. The recall affects 15 models made between 2006 and 2009.
And a scare at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport when a vintage biplane that was part of a movie promotion stunt botched its landing and flipped over. This is how it looked from the inside of the cockpit. We are happy to report, delighted to report that the pilot and passenger walked away unharmed.
Do not try this at home, Anderson, with your biplane.
COOPER: Yes. Man, could have been so much worse. All right, Gary thanks.
Still ahead, my exclusive interview with survivors of the DeepWater Horizon explosion, the problems they say they saw on the oil rig, the risk they say BP and TransOcean took with their lives to save time and to save money.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DOUG BROWN, BP EXPLOSION SURVIVOR: If they're going to cut corners and overlook things, they're not being safe. They're jeopardizing us all out there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: You know, it's hard to believe, but it was exactly 50 days ago that the fire and explosion destroyed that rig out there on the Gulf. Tonight, five survivors are speaking out about what they heard and what they said they saw leading up to the disaster. You will learn of an argument two of them said they saw the morning of the disaster between a BP executive and a TransOcean official, an argument over how to proceed with the drilling, a significant moment, possibly central to a criminal case against BP.
This is an exclusive interview, a partnership between CNN special investigations unit and our program.
COOPER: You understand they were cutting corners. What -- what would their motivation be?
BROWN: To finish the job faster, to save money.
COOPER: You think that's what this was about? It's about saving time and saving money?
BROWN: Well, yes. They're over-budget on it. So yes, they were cutting corners to -- for time and money.
COOPER (voice-over): Two of the men who survived the BP oil-rig fire and collapse are trying to explain an argument they say they witnessed on the platform about 12 hours before the first explosion. It was an argument, they say, between TransOcean and BP managers.
BROWN: The meeting was a pre-tower meeting. Basically, they go over the day's events, what's going to be taking place on the drill floor. And while he was giving it, the company man basically jumped up and said, "No, we've got some changes."
COOPER: The company man is from BP?
COOPER: The driller was from TransOcean?
BROWN: Driller is TransOcean, yes. And the company man basically said, "We have some changes to that. We're going to be doing something different." I recall it was something about displacing the riser with sea water for that tower. COOPER: Taking drilling mud out --
COOPER: And replacing it with sea water?
COOPER (voice-over): Brown and others said the argument raised concerns, because replacing dense mud with sea water meant less pressure to hold the oil down.
(on camera): Why would they want to displace it with saltwater?
BARRON: To make it quicker for the production well to get in, once we cap the well.
COOPER: That was the idea; they wanted to close off the well?
BARRON: They were getting ready to go to the next well, and they were -- they were trying to, you know, make it easier for the production crew to get in, because it took so much time for us to drill this well and get it done.
COOPER (voice-over): Drilling on the DeepWater Horizon was already five weeks behind schedule, according to the rig workers. And at a rough cost of $750,000 a day, that delay meant the project was more than $26 million over budget. The survivors say there was pressure to finish the drilling and begin actually pumping out the oil.
(on camera): You're saying this was an argument between some TransOcean people and the guy from BP?
And basically, he ended up saying, "Well, this is how it's going to be." And they started reluctantly agreeing, and --
COOPER: You're saying the guy from BP won the argument, basically? He basically said, "This is how we're going to do it"?
BROWN: Yes. That's what I remember, yes. He basically said, "Well, this is how it's going to be."
COOPER: Dan, do you think that, too, that this was about saving time and saving money for BP from TransOcean?
BARRON: Yes. And it just bothers me that TransOcean would let them. You know, as much as TransOcean preaches safety, you know, it doesn't make sense that TransOcean would just fold like that if it wasn't over money.
COOPER (voice-over): Attorney Steve Gordon represents all five survivors we interviewed.
(on camera): You're saying that BP was negligent, yes?
STEVE GORDON, ATTORNEY: At least.
COOPER: At least?
GORDON: That's putting it nicely. I would say --
COOPER: How would you put it?
GORDON: Well, I've seen negligence; I've seen gross negligence; and this conduct is criminal, what they did.
GORDON: Yes. There's a -- there's a crime scene sitting 5,000 feet below the water.
COOPER: What way do you think that they are criminally negligent?
GORDON: You heard my client say that BP came in and overrode the decision of the driller at TransOcean. When they did that, they, in essence, took over on that day. And the decision that they made to displace the mud with saltwater on a well that they knew had dangerous propensities, I believe is criminal.
COOPER: What do you think was more important to BP or to TransOcean? Time and money or safety?
BARRON: Time and money. Honestly. They preached safety. It's like safety is only convenient for them when they need it. You know, you're pressured and pushed to do things. And if you say, "Hey," you know, because everybody has the right to call time-out for safety, but you do it, you're going to get run off, you know. You're going to get fired. They're not going to fire you for that, but they're going to figure out a way eventually to get rid of you.
COOPER: And you've seen that happen?
BARRON: Yes, I have, actually. Yes, I have.
COOPER (voice-over): Even before that argument on the day of the explosion, the survivors we talked to said they had had other concerns.
BARRON: There's always like, an ominous feeling when we were on that well. You know, and a lot of people were telling everybody else on the rig; there was a chatter that, you know, we're messing with Mother Nature right now. I mean, there's always something, you know, either kicked or we're getting stuck or we're getting large amounts of gas.
COOPER (on camera): And what is a kick?
BARRON: A kick is when we get an air bubble or gas bubble coming up or the mud and water coming up. COOPER: And that's a problem?
COOPER: The CEO of BP, Tony Hayward, he makes a big deal about the company's safety record and that safety is their No. 1 priority. Do you believe that?
BROWN: I believe he believes it.
COOPER: You think he's wrong?
BROWN: And I used to believe it. But after this incident, I'm not so sure I do anymore. Not after what I've seen. They're not being safe. They're jeopardizing us all out there.
COOPER: Matt, do you believe that safety is their No. 1 concern?
MATTHEW JACOBS, BP EXPLOSION SURVIVOR: Uh-uh. All BP's worried about is -- is money.
COOPER: When you hear BP Tony Hayward say he wants his life back, what do you think?
BARRON: I want my life back, you know. I'm sure you want your life back, too.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
BARRON: I'm sure, you know, there's 11 guys out there. Their wives want them back.
BROWN: Yes, we all agree with that. He wants his life back. We all want our lives back. We want to be able to sleep a normal night's sleep for once. We'd -- we'd like all those families out there of the 11 who don't have their husbands or fathers, their sons; I'm sure they would want them back.
He wants his life back. What about everyone else that was on that rig that night?
COOPER: And it was to honor those 11 comrades, colleagues who died on that rig, that these men wanted to speak, wanted us to focus on who these men were, who these 11 were who died.
We're going to be talking a lot about them throughout this week and in a special later on this week.
CNN reached out to both BP and TransOcean to respond to this story. BP spokesman Robert Wine wouldn't comment on specific allegations but said, "BP's priority is always safety." That's a quote.
A TransOcean spokesperson said in part, quote, "Safety is the No. 1 priority of TransOcean, and there is no scenario or circumstance under which it will be compromised."
Regarding criminal allegations, a BP spokesperson said they will, quote, "cooperate with any inquiry the Department of Justice will undertake, just as we are doing in response to the other inquiries that are already on-going."
Next on the program, the struggles now for the survivors still haunted by what happened to them on that rig. You'll hear more from them as our exclusive interview continues right after the break.
COOPER: Well, for the survivors of the DeepWater Horizon, nothing, of course, will ever be the same. Lives were forever changed out there in the Gulf. One of the men we talked to called it a never- ending nightmare.
Here's more of our exclusive interview with five of the survivors.
BARRON: Every time you close your eye, every time you go to bed, it's like a never-ending movie that just keeps replaying in your head. And you can't sleep; you can't focus. You know, you just have a hard time dealing with it.
And then just the little things like, you know, hearing that hiss, you know, being in a hotel room, and the guy next door to you turns on the water and makes that hissing sound, just brings you out of bed like -- like you're on fire. I mean, it just -- it's really hard.
BRENT MANSFIELD, BP EXPLOSION SURVIVOR: I actually don't remember the event because I got hit in the head in one of the explosions.
COOPER: Do you have injuries now?
MANSFIELD: I have a skull fracture. I have a skull fracture here. I had 11 staples. And --
COOPER: That's the scar there?
MANSFIELD: Yes, sir. And fractured the sinuses in my nose and cheekbones.
COOPER (voice-over): Brent Mansfield was in the engine control room when the rig exploded. He was found unconscious with multiple head wounds. He says his memory of events that day is totally erased until he was on a rescue chopper.
(on camera): Is it hard not remembering, or is it better not to remember anything?
MANSFIELD: I struggle with that. You know? I'm supposed to be one of the guys on the fire team, you know, helping isolate wherever the fire is at, you know, isolate valves, electricity, whatever, so, you know, what could I have done to help? You know, I was a burden.
COOPER: And you don't -- you don't remember any of this?
MANSFIELD: No, sir. I just -- in fact, Doug was probably the first person I had gotten in contact with after I got to the hospital, when you know, I didn't know where I was working at the time, you know, when I started -- really, after I saw my family and --
COOPER: It's hard for all of you. It's tough to talk about.
BROWN: Very hard.
It's like being in a never-ending nightmare. You dream about it, you see it in your sleep. Then we wake up in the morning and we realize it's not a dream, it's real. This really happened to us. And we just keep seeing it through the day. The nightmare continues.
COOPER: For you, what is the hardest part of this? I mean the thing that you struggle with now when you think about it?
MANSFIELD: The hardest part is, you know, the fact that, you know, somebody -- people saved my life, you know? That's one of the biggest ones. And then, you know, coming home to my family and just -- all the people that prayed for you.
COOPER: It's good to have people praying for you.
COOPER: Do you guys -- I mean do you plan to work on rigs again?
JACOBS: I don't think I could ever go back out there. That was my biggest fear of working offshore, and it happened. And I was given a second chance to get off and I'm not going back.
COOPER: That's it for 360. Thanks for watching.
"LARRY KING" starts right now.
I'll see you from the Gulf tomorrow.