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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Interview With Massachusetts Congressman Edward Markey; Gulf Boat Captain Commits Suicide
Aired June 24, 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: Tonight, with new waves of oil closing beaches and destroying lives, yet another BP official makes a startling claim. The problem is, we have video that disproves it.
We're "Keeping Them Honest." We will play that for you shortly.
But we begin tonight with a death, a death that has stunned many here in the Gulf. This is Allen Kruse, a fishing boat captain in Alabama. He took his life yesterday, a single gunshot wound to the head. He died aboard his boat. The coroner has ruled it a suicide.
Now, a suicide is difficult thing to comprehend. And no one can ever really know the forces that lead someone to it. Allen Kruse left no note, a charter fishing boat captain until the spill, but, these days, he was working for BP on cleanup duty, going out day after day in the waters that once made him a living and in so many ways gave him a life.
His friends say the oil spill and all that's happened since weighed heavily on him. Someone noticed he had been losing weight.
Now, we don't know what happened that made him end his life, but the concern now is that he will not be the last. All around the Gulf, the strain is growing. Church groups are bringing in extra clergy along the coast -- 1,500 people have received counseling, according to Catholic Charities. Experts are seeing more drinking, more domestic violence, more anger and despair.
Here is David Mattingly.
DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): People who knew him say Allen Kruse lived to fish. And those closest to him say that life unraveled when the oil spill hit the Gulf waters where he worked.
(on camera): He thought it was dead?
MARC KRUSE, BROTHER OF SUICIDE VICTIM: Yes.
MATTINGLY: He said that to you?
M. KRUSE: Yes.
MATTINGLY: And that there was no hope that the fishing was ever going to come back?
M. KRUSE: Not in his lifetime.
MATTINGLY: (voice-over): Among charter boat captains in Orange Beach, Alabama, Kruse was a leader, drumming up business in good times.
ALLEN KRUSE, CHARTER FISHERMAN: And the fishing is going to be good all summer.
MATTINGLY: And voicing the frustrations of a community in the bad times.
A. KRUSE: The day that the oil entered the Gulf, my phone quit ringing.
MATTINGLY: Just a month after that interview, Kruse was found on his boat dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. For 14 days, he had worked for BP, hauling boom and looking for oil. His brothers say he felt his role in the cleanup, as a BP vessel of opportunity, was worthless.
(on camera): That's what he told you?
FRANK KRUSE, BROTHER OF SUICIDE VICTIM: Yes.
MATTINGLY: That he felt like he was being put out there just for show?
F. KRUSE: Yes. That's what he told his wife. He didn't tell me that. That's what he told his wife. That's what she told me just a while ago.
M. KRUSE: He told me it was madness.
MATTINGLY (voice-over): Kruse's friends tell me he felt overwhelmed by the enormity of the disaster and that they're all feeling the stress.
BEN FAIREY, FRIEND OF SUICIDE VICTIM: This has been a long-term situation. This started in 2004 with a direct hit from Hurricane Ivan. Then the next year was Katrina, then skyrocketing fuel prices, fishing regulations, and then an oil spill. This has been six years that this area has really suffered a lot of stress.
MATTINGLY: Stress that his friends believe finally became too much for Kruse. And now they're worried about others.
(on camera): Are you afraid that maybe one of your other friends out there might be thinking about something extreme?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sure.
FAIREY: We worry about that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We worry about that every day. (CROSSTALK)
MATTINGLY: What are you going to do about it?
FAIREY: That's why we're trying to get the word out.
MATTINGLY: As a gesture to the community that is now grieving for him, Kruse's family thought it would be best for his boat to be brought here to home port in Orange Beach.
And here it is right now, the Rookie. His friends say that there's really no better way that they could think of to pay tribute to a man who loved what he did for a living and loved the waters where he worked.
(voice-over): It's the Rookie's final voyage, carrying a cargo of uncertainty and sorrow.
David Mattingly, CNN, Orange Beach, Alabama.
COOPER: Man, it is a lot of -- a lot of hurt down here, a lot of what really amounts to maybe post-traumatic stress, with a key difference, of course.
For returning troops, the immediate cause of the stress is over. For hundreds of thousands of people around the Gulf, the strain just keeps on going. There's no end date in site.
The Exxon Valdez spill apparently sparked a wave of suicides. We have already seen a U.S. congressman from down here getting choked up during hearings in Washington. It's going to be a long time before people here heal.
Tony Kennon is the mayor of Orange Beach, Alabama. He joins us now.
Mayor, thanks for being with us.
You knew Allen Kruse, didn't you?
TONY KENNON, MAYOR OF ORANGE BEACH, ALABAMA: Yes, sir. I knew him very well.
COOPER: What do you make of what happened?
KENNON: He was a good friend and good man and good husband.
Well, I -- I think it just -- he snapped. I mean, it was too much. And there's a lot of people on the edge feeling that same way. You know, we -- we feel hopeless. We feel helpless. We don't feel like there's an advocate out there. We feel like our politicians, both right and left, are playing -- we're pawns in their political game. BP is absolutely spinning $50 million worth of falsehoods, while, at the same time, they're doing nothing, as far as I'm concerned, that they should be doing in taking care of us and making us whole, as they continue the claim to the world they're going to do.
It's getting tougher. This last two weeks, it's really, really ramped up.
COOPER: And, I mean, I heard you said, I mean, his death also makes you angry. What about it angers you?
KENNON: No, you -- you have no idea how angry I am, because I shouldn't even be here talking to you about it. It should have never happened.
KENNON: The 11 lives on that rig should have never happened. Because of corporate greed -- and I never thought I would even use that word -- selfishness, the pursuit of the dollar -- and that's my true belief -- we have this -- this catastrophe.
And it's exactly what gives capitalism a bad name. It's what gives corporate greed validity. And I'm going to tell you what. I hope Mr. Hayward and them think long and hard. I don't know how they sleep at night, to be honest with you.
COOPER: I lost a brother to suicide. And it's the kind of thing, you know, everyone is always left asking why, and a lot of times, there's no actual answer for what's going through somebody's mind.
But we're already hearing reports from social service providers that they're seeing a spike in the kind of mental health issues that have popped up after other oil spills. What kind of resources are available for the folks in Alabama, where you are, and other places?
KENNON: Well, we have got the county mental health. We have got a councilman actually in our city that's tasked with formulating a plan.
We're bringing in and asking all the preachers and all the churches to step up and try to help. We have a weekly meeting at lunch on Wednesdays where we invite the entire community in for support. BP is there to ask questions. Folks vent.
But the big thing is, I mean, we just have to love each other. We have got to be there for each other. And we can't -- we can't let go. We can't give up. I mean, our way of life is threatened.
COOPER: You mentioned this -- this ad campaign, this $50 million that BP has been spending. You know, originally, they had those ads with Tony Hayward. Clearly, those aren't working.
So, now they have these ads with a guy name Darryl Willis, who is apparently heading up the claims process for BP. I just want to play for our viewers, in case they haven't been subjected to them, just a little bit of this ad, this new ad. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, BP AD)
DARRYL WILLIS, VICE PRESIDENT OF RESOURCES, BP AMERICA: I was born and raised in Louisiana. I volunteered for this assignment because this is my home. I will be here in the Gulf as long as it takes to make this right.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: You actually know this guy. What do you make of this new ad?
KENNON: Oh, it makes me mad every time I see it.
I have been in meetings with this gentleman. I don't consider him an honorable man. He doesn't follow up on his promises. He has no compassion for us whatsoever.
The -- what they say in the ad is -- is the perfect example of how to lie with statistics. They talk about $100 million given away. Well, you know what? Our annual tourism revenue is $2.3 billion. You look at the coast, we're probably $7 billion to $8 billion. One hundred million dollars is nothing. That's a drop in the bucket from what is being lost and what is being needed.
So, you know, they don't need to spend $50 million. If they step up, do the honorable thing, make it right, like they said they would, they would never have to spend a dime, because we would be their best P.R. they could ever get. We would be singing their praises to high heaven. But that's not what's happening.
COOPER: Well, Mr. Mayor, I appreciate you coming on and talking to us. And I'm sorry it's under these circumstances. And please expend our -- extend our condolences to the Kruse family.
KENNON: I will. And thank you for having me.
COOPER: Well, let us know what you think at home. Join the live chat right now under way at AC360.com.
Up next: A top BP executive has everyone asking tonight, which Doug -- Doug Suttles do you believe, the one who says he has never downplayed the impact of the spill or the one who downplays the impact of the spill? And we have video to show you. We're "Keeping Them Honest."
And, later, what is happening to the oil after it enters the ocean? New word of underwater plumes of oil and new denials from BP. We will talk to Congressman Ed Markey, who has got questions about that and about all the dispersants BP has been pumping into the sea. We haven't heard a lot about dispersants lately, but there are some new questions being raised about how many dispersants are still being used out there.
We will show you what is up with that.
COOPER: Well, the containment cap is back on tonight, but oil is still flowing out. And, in a moment, we're going to talk with Congressman Ed Markey, who got us our first look at these live feeds.
He says that BP is yet again, well, at it again, trying to downplay or outright deny reality, in this case about those underwater plumes of oil and dispersant. We're going to have that for you shortly.
But, speaking about downplaying, I want to play you a clip that we just saw tonight for the first time. It's a clip of a top BP executive. And, after that, we're going to play you some other clips of things he has said before. And you can decide for yourself if he's now telling the truth.
Take a look what he said tonight to NBC.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, NBC NEWS)
ANNE THOMPSON, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Some have excused BP of downplaying the impact of this oil spill.
DOUG SUTTLES, COO, GLOBAL EXPLORATION, BP: Well, Anne, I -- I have never done that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: OK. It was short. He says he has never done that, he's never downplayed the impact of this oil spill. That was BP's chief operating officer, Doug Suttles, talking to NBC's Anne Thompson tonight, says he never downplayed the impact of this spill.
But, on June 8, he told the Associated Press the leak would be down to -- and I quote -- "a relative trickle" within a few days. That was on June 8.
And then later, BP, of course, as they do with just about every one of their executives so far, has had to walk back that statement, saying that, even though the company is optimistic, it's going to take more time to reach the point that the spill will amount to a trickle. We're all waiting for that point.
But such overly optimistic talk, what some would call downplaying, has not been the exception. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SUTTLES: Somewhere between 1,000 and 5,000 barrels a day.
JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: But you're sticking with approximately 5,000 barrels a day? SUTTLES: I think that's a good range. I don't know the precise number, but I think it is somewhere around that number. And that's been both our estimate and that of the Unified Command, the government agencies we're working with.
Five thousand barrels a day, we have always said it was -- it was an estimate all of us came together to make.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: For a long time, he was sticking with 1,000 barrels.
The last three of those interviews were done shortly after BP released video, video that they had been looking at for weeks, of the leaking pipe.
Now, Mr. Suttles was talking about that 5,000 barrel oil immediately after a Purdue University professor had looked at the exact same video, in fact, just at a 30-second clip of it, and estimated the leak about 70,000 barrels, which turned out to be very accurate, because now the government is saying, well, it's much as 60,000 barrels leaking a day.
Yet, Mr. Suttles and other executives at BP stuck to what we now know was a very, very low number.
Joining me now again, once again, is Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser.
When you hear BP now saying, well, we never underestimated anything, I mean, do you think they were underestimating?
BILLY NUNGESSER, PRESIDENT, PLAQUEMINES PARISH, LOUISIANA: Oh, absolutely. They're still underestimating the amount of marshland that's being impacted.
You know, the latest figure they have given us is the 30 acres, and we have shown where it's over 3,000 acres. Actually, it's approaching 4,000 acres as we stand here today. We continue to get hit hard.
You know, the NOAA plume moving away from -- we're still getting hit every day Bay Jimmy and Barataria Bay. Every day, we're getting hit.
COOPER: Do you think -- I mean, do you think they believe some of their statements or do you think that, I mean, do they get a central marching order? I mean, obviously, these are questions I would love to be asking them. But I don't get that opportunity, because they won't respond.
NUNGESSER: You know, Anderson, it's getting to the point now where you don't know who to believe.
You know, when we asked -- you know, we were told it was never coming ashore. It was going to stay. That's why we were spraying the dispersants, keep it offshore, break it up.
NUNGESSER: And then, when we said it's coming ashore under the surface, we can't see it, who's evaluating whether we should be spraying -- still be spraying dispersants? Because it's not doing what they said it was going to do.
So, we know, if they don't spray them, it will come to the surface. It will be ugly, but at least we can see what we're fighting and pick it up. You know, every day, we're getting hit in different areas of the marshland, as you saw. We wake up the next morning, another area is impacted.
COOPER: Yesterday, there was a big blow for -- for what you believe is a good effort, which is this sand berm that you had permission to build.
You now have to wait about anywhere from five to -- to nine days to -- to build a pipeline out to a farther area for you to dredge new sand to build these sand berms to protect inland. How was it today? Was there any progress today on...
NUNGESSER: Absolutely not. They're sticking to their decision.
It may have an impact on the stabilization of that island -- that island that 10 days ago was beneath the -- what stabilization impact could it have on an island that's underwater? This is ridiculous, the comments that said we ought to get a bunch of volunteers together to put the pipe together.
It's not a Tinkertoy set. It's a pipe you could drive your car in that has to be weld and slid into the ocean two miles out and it has to be transported out to the island. It's going to take days in good weather...
COOPER: Was there any progress today on -- on any front that you saw in your realm, in Plaquemines Parish?
NUNGESSER: No. No.
You know, we're at war, says the president, but yet this lady, who thinks we can help with volunteers putting the pipe together, has the ability to stop this island. The sad part is, we got oil coming back our way. There's a nesting ground 1,000 feet away from where we stopped.
By Friday, 3,000 feet would have protected it. If that island gets infected with oil, the blood is on her hands. She stopped it.
COOPER: When you hear that a fisherman in Alabama committed suicide -- and, again, we don't know what goes through somebody's mind. You can't say it was necessarily because of the spill or -- or what he was experiencing after it. But his friends say, you know, he was gradually becoming more and more despondent. What...
NUNGESSER: I saw it tonight.
I just came from Venice. The Wildlife Federation put on a shrimp bar. It's not the same festive attitude we saw a month ago at the Plaquemines Seafood Fest. People are growing tired. They're seeing no help. They're seeing a lady stop something that will protect us because something that might, could've, should've been?
We're letting people stand in our way. My guys put lights on their boats last night. Where you saw them with the wet vac, they're out there tonight sucking up oil, because they're not going to give up the fight. Those are true Americans that believe in -- in saving our wetlands. And we're fighting bureaucrats in Washington.
COOPER: I think, often, in a situation like this -- and we -- I have seen it before, and we saw a lot of it in Katrina -- in the initial, you know, a few weeks after, kind of adrenaline gets you through. You know, this is this new horrible situation you have got to deal with that you're working around the clock.
But now, I mean, day, what -- you know, 66, the adrenaline is gone, and it's just, the reality of the daily grind and this -- this, you know, never-ending oil, it really does wear on you.
NUNGESSER: Well, the highs and lows of thinking we have got the team at the table to move forward, and the only way we're going to win this is for the Coast Guard, BP, the government all to be on the same team pulling together.
And it's not been that way. At some point, it's been a fight with each and every one of them. You know, come out of a meeting Monday, BP, Coast Guard on the ground is willing to move ahead. Yet, today, we find out that the -- the orders that the Coast Guard said yes, order the boom, do this, BP now is refusing to pay for it.
NUNGESSER: Well, if -- if the Coast Guard is in charge, and BP is not approving it, we have got -- we have got a problem here.
We're going to talk to Billy more in just a moment about a potential tropical storm and what that might do. It's out there. We're going to tell you where exactly it is. We will talk to Billy about what impact that could have if it comes here.
Just ahead also tonight: Congressman Ed Markey on the plumes of oil that BP still denies.
And we will talk to Chad Myers about the weather system that I just talked about, and Billy will join us for that as well.
We will be right back.
COOPER: Well, today, Congressman Ed Markey asked the EPA and the Coast Guard to provide more information on the dispersants that BP is using in the Gulf. Now, Markey and a lot of others believe the chemicals are toxic and could have a devastating impact on people and marine life.
Now, at the same time, Markey says that BP continues to deny the existence of underwater plumes of oil, plumes that a lot of scientists say exist, but BP doubts.
I spoke with the congressman earlier this evening.
COOPER: Congressman, is BP still using too many dispersants?
REP. EDWARD MARKEY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Well, I have asked the Coast Guard and I have asked the EPA to tell me what the -- decisions have been made that affect BP's use of these dispersants.
I am still very concerned about the impact that this uncontrolled science experiment can have long term in the Gulf of Mexico. And that's why I am demanding that we learn more in public about why BP continues to use the dispersants and what the conditions are that allow them to use them.
COOPER: Because, I mean, BP has reportedly used 272,000 gallons of dispersants in the Gulf since the EPA directed the company to cease using them about four weeks ago, except in rare cases.
Do you know what these allegedly rare cases are that they're using them in?
MARKEY: Well, again, the Coast Guard has the final say on the use of dispersants. And that is why I am asking the Coast Guard to give me the information that they are using in order to allow BP to continue to use the dispersants or if BP is using these dispersants in contravention of an order that has been made by the Coast Guard, in consultation with the EPA.
COOPER: You have said that -- that you're concerned about the underwater use of these dispersants. You say that BP has exceeded the amount that they were supposed to use under the water.
BP continues to contend that there are no underwater plumes. And they use evidence from NOAA to say that there are no underwater plumes. But they were, in fact, looking at the data from NOAA west of the well.
East of the well, NOAA says that they have confirmed that there are underwater plumes. So, we just continue with BP to have this denial of reality, which has been characteristic of the way in which they have dealt with these issues since day one.
COOPER: And, as far as you understand, what is the danger of these plumes? I mean, the scientists say that they're depleting oxygen, killing off parts of the food chain. Is that correct?
These underwater plumes, ultimately, because of the chemicals, because of the oil and this toxic stew, can consume oxygen in the ocean, which ultimately will asphyxiate the marine life in the Gulf of Mexico. We have to be very careful that what we're doing in the Gulf right now with the oil, with the dispersants doesn't wind up having a generational impact on the marine life in perhaps the most important area of our country for marine life.
COOPER: Has the EPA been tough enough? I mean, it seems like, several weeks ago, they sent this strongly worded letter to BP, basically saying, cease and desist, drop back the number of dispersants, the -- the percentage of dispersants you're using, you know, cut it by 75 percent.
BP now apparently, according to the EPA, has cut it back 68 percent. Do you think the EPA is being tough enough?
MARKEY: Well, that's why I'm asking the questions of the Coast Guard and the EPA. Ultimately, the call is made by the Coast Guard.
So, we have to get that information from them. What are the criteria? How much is still being shot into the ocean or on the ocean? And what are the standards that are being used in terms of the long-term impact on the Gulf of Mexico?
Right now, I can't give you the answers to that.
COOPER: Congressman Markey, appreciate your time. Thank you.
MARKEY: Thank you for having me on.
COOPER: Well, as always, we would love to hear more from BP than just a news release or written statement. That's why, every day, we continue to invite a BP executive to come on the program.
It's not a joke. It's not a ploy, no ambushes. We're totally serious about this.
We have been asking obviously now for -- well, every single day that we have been here in the Gulf. And, if you don't believe that, take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, MAY 17, 2010)
COOPER: 360 has repeatedly tried to get this guy, BP's chief, CEO, Tony Hayward, onto the program. He's passed repeatedly. At this point, I want to invite anyone from BP on this program. (END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, MAY 18, 2010)
COOPER: Well, every night for weeks, we have invited BP to come on the program. Every night, they have declined.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, MAY 19, 2010)
COOPER: After weeks of telling us, no thanks, BP tonight agreed to answer our questions.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, MAY 20, 2010)
COOPER: We have been asking for a long time for somebody. We finally got somebody last night. And I guess -- I don't know -- we didn't get him again tonight.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, MAY 21, 2010)
COOPER: We should point out that we invited BP to be on this program today, but they declined.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, MAY 25, 2010)
COOPER: The invitation stands. We interviewed a top official a couple of days ago. We haven't heard from them since.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, MAY 26, 2010)
COOPER: For weeks now, literally weeks, we invited BP's CEO, Tony Hayward to come on 360. Again today, the answer was no. He does the morning shows. Maybe he doesn't want to stay up late.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, MAY 27, 2010)
COOPER: Now, BP doesn't come on this program for some reason, though we invite them to every single night.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, JUNE 1, 2010)
COOPER: And, as always, we invited BP executives to come on the program tonight. We invite them every single night. Other than the one time they have shown up, they -- they basically don't return our phone calls anymore.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, JUNE 2, 2010)
COOPER: We invited executives from BP to come on the program tonight. They once again declined. As always, the invitation stands. Again, I will wake up early. Tony Hayward loves to appear apparently on morning shows. I will happily wake up very early in the morning just to talk to him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, JUNE 3, 2010)
COOPER: I invite anybody from BP or the government to -- to, you know, inform the American public and the world, frankly, who's watching right now what is occurring, and I can't understand a reason why they wouldn't.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, JUNE 4, 2010)
COOPER: As always, we invite him on this program. We invite any BP official on this program. They have yet to take up our invitation for the last several weeks.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, JUNE 7, 2010)
COOPER: As always, we should point out we invited BP executives to come on the program again tonight. They, of course, said no.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, JUNE 9, 2010)
COOPER: BP did give us one interview, which we appreciated, one on May 19. We will keep asking. We hope they change their mind. We think we will be very fair. And I don't yell or anything.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, JUNE 10, 2009)
COOPER: They refuse to come on my program. They have refused now for, I don't know, probably about three weeks or so. Every night, we ask them. They -- they don't return our phone calls at this point.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, JUNE 14, 2010)
COOPER: Again, we invite them on the program. As you saw there, BP did give us one interview, which we appreciated, one on May 19. We're going to keep asking. We hope they will change their mind.
And it's easy for me to kind of smile about this and almost kind of make a joke about it. But it's not a joking matter. The people here deserve answers and deserve transparency.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, JUNE 16, 2010)
COOPER: Throughout the program tonight, I have tried to represent BP -- BP's position as much as I can in conversations. We always invite them on the program. We again invite them on the program tonight. They declined.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, JUNE 17, 2010)
COOPER: As always, we invited BP to be on the program tonight. Of course, they said no.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: So, yet again, we invite BP to be on the program.
Still ahead: a new threat to the Gulf. The National Weather Center says there is a high chance of a tropical cyclone forming in the Caribbean in the next 48 hours, could be headed here. Chad Myers is tracking the storm. We will check in with him.
Later: the wildlife in jeopardy. A dolphin died yesterday. The fear is, it won't be the last. Frankly, it's not the first. We will talk to Alexandra Cousteau about what's happening out there to marine animals.
COOPER: There may be a tropical disturbance -- there may be a tropical -- there may be a tropical disturbance out there in the Caribbean. We're going to bring in Chad Myers who is tracking it for us. Chad, where is this thing and what is it?
CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Anderson, it is a disturbance. It doesn't have a name. It doesn't have anything. They are running computer models on it, but it's not significant yet. There's Cuba right through there, and then, kind of appears, there's Haiti right here. So, all well south into the Caribbean where there are some very warm water. There is the potential for this to develop into something. It is still going to travel off to the west, we believe, possibly head toward the Yucatan peninsula. Worst case scenario, it would be somewhere on up into the Gulf of Mexico.
So, let's take a look at what the computers are saying, at least, for now. Here are a few of them. Not all of them. There are a few of them are doing other things, but if the storm -- let' s see. Here is Jamaica. Again, here's Cuba. South of there and it travels and turns like they typically do, eventually turning to the right. Without a turn to the right, it stays into Belize and then to Mexico and just makes rain. That would be fantastic. But if it's going to turn, like all the models -- you can see the models here. If it's going to turn, it's going to make a big difference whether it goes to the west of the oil slick which is right there or to the east of the oil slick which is right there.
And you say, why would it matter so much? It matters so much because depending on the travel -- here is another track. I'll show you all the other tracks. This is everything we have. If it takes this line, then all of a sudden, the winds blow this way. Offshore, taking the oil away from land. Perfect scenario. It doesn't get better than that. Now, if the storm goes off to the west, the winds blow this way and blows all that oil right onshore. Now, it won't pick up the oil and rain oil 50 miles inland, but a whipping wind, you've been in it.
Your lips taste like saltwater, you can get the spray to be picked up and blow this water and this oil inland at least a mile or so. The big story would be how far the storm surge would take it in. Would it be three miles, four miles, ten miles? And that would pollute an awful lot of land if the storm goes to the west and pushes the oil to the north - Anderson.
COOPER: Chad, thanks very much. We're going to continue to monitor the tropical disturbance and bring you the latest on where it's going, what we know as soon as we know it. Let's talk to Billy Nungesser about what kind of preparations there are. I mean, obviously, you know, folks are saying this is going to be an active season. I'm always skeptical of predictions because you never really know, but how do you prepare for this?
BILLY NUNGESSER, PLAQUEMINES PARISH PRESIDENT: We've had meetings with BP and the coast guard. We're still waiting for all their equipment and all their personnel. We've actually picked out a place in the north end of the parish. I don't think we'll get all the equipment, all the people out, realistic. Even if we pull the trigger on their evacuation the same time we do the offshore rigs, logistically having barges with 200, 300 men that have to be transported by boat back to shore is a big task.
NUNGESSER: So, we're going to take this location as a last resort to hunker down in the north end of the parish. But we will not put the citizens in harm's way. When the counterflow goes into place, those vessels, those buses will not be allowed on the highway. But we're planning for it. It's just going to be a mighty task.
COOPER: And obviously, you know, the drilling wells will have to shut down. The rigs will have to, you know, be moved and the boom, obviously, I mean, will -- NUNGESSER: Be gone. It will end up right here where we are if it's a bad storm. But you're right. And the coast guard has regulations, which a lot of people don't realize, on these vessels. They used to bring them in to the inner canals. Coast guard says no more. They got to get them out of there. So, there's not really a picked out, safe haven place for the barges and vessels. They can't all head up river, depending on the storm surge and which way it's coming.
So, it's a mighty task. Last year, the last hurricane where Gustav and Ike, we sunk 74 vessels barges in the parish. We will not allow them to be there as torpedoes for the levees. So, they need to get out --
COOPER: Is that a concern that they can literally become torpedoes and get picked up.
NUNGESSER: That's exactly. In Plaquemines Parish, that's what happened. In Katrina, everywhere we had a levee break. We had a barge inside the levee. So, we will sink them. And sometimes, as we use this method and then afterwards you pump them out and bring them back up. So, we're waiting for their plans. But we have to have a backup plan as the parish to make sure we make it safe.
COOPER: Scary times. Billy, appreciate you being with us.
NUNGESSER: Thank you so much.
COOPER: Thanks very much. Still a lot more ahead tonight. We're going to take a look at what is happening to marine mammals out in the water. We'll have a lot more from the Gulf in just a moment.
But let's check in with Randi Kaye who joins us for "360" Bulletin -- Randi.
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, a change in command but not a change in strategy. General David Petraeus supports President Barack Obama's July 2011 deadline to start withdrawing U.S. troops from Afghanistan. While both Defense Secretary Roberts Gates and Joint Chiefs chairman Admiral Mike Mullen endorse the president's decision to relieve General Stanley McChrystal of duty.
President Obama says he and Russian president, Dmitry Medvedev, have reset relations in a meeting at the White House. President Obama pledged support from Moscow's bid to join the World Trade Organization. Medvedev agreed to allow U.S. poultry to be exported to Russia. And the two presidents, in case you're wondering, are now following each other on Twitter.
Alleged drug kingpin, Christopher Dudus Coke, arrives in the U.S. He waived his right to an extradition hearing in Jamaica. Attempts to arrest him last month spark days of deadly riots in Kingston.
And that record setting match in Wimbledon, well, it is finally over. American John Isner beat Francis Nicolas Mahut, 70-68 and that will assess (ph) in the final set. There it is, right there. Finally ending. The match lasted more than 11 hours and took three days, easily, Anderson, the longest tennis game on record.
COOPER: That was just incredible match. And to see it finally end, I think everyone breathed a huge sigh of relief. I also do not believe that they are following each other on Twitter.
KAYE: The two presidents?
COOPER: The Russian president and --
KAYE: Actually, I think --
COOPER: Oh, come on. Like President Obama is sitting there, following people on Twitter? I doubt it. I hope not. Do they have time for this?
KAYE: He got more important things to do, that's for sure.
COOPER: I would certainly hope that he's doing that rather than trying to come up with 140 character, you know, little pithy sayings.
KAYE: Yes. Let's hope so.
COOPER: Yes. Randi, thanks.
Up next, dolphins endangered. This is what happened on a Florida beach yesterday. What's being done to help the marine mammals today? We'll talk to the granddaughter of Jacque Cousteau, Alexandra Cousteau, right after this.
COOPER: I want to show you an incident that occurred on the beach of Florida yesterday. Baby bottle-nosed dolphin was in distress near Florida beach. Folks noticed and brought it to shore. They tried to nurse the animal back to health, pouring water on it, then putting it back in the water. It was too late, however. The dolphin died yesterday. It was not the only dolphin that we've seen washed ashore since the spill. There have been dozens that have been found. None of the deaths have been definitively linked to the spill right now.
But we do know that all the oil that's out there is definitely not making their lives any easier. I spoke with Alexandra Cousteau a little while ago about the danger these animals are in.
COOPER: Alexandra, we still need tests to know for sure why this dolphin died, but you think this death may be just the tip of the iceberg?
ALEXANDRA COUSTEAU, FOUNDER, BLUE LEGACY: Absolutely, Anderson. I think we're actually going to see a lot more marine mammal casualties in the months to come.
COOPER: Why is that? COUSTEAU: The marine mammals are incredibly sensitive to the environment especially at the surface. Marine mammals come up to breathe. They have very delicate mucus membranes. So, their eyes, mouth, their blow holes, all of that can be incredibly painful when it comes in to contact with the oil. And when they come to the surface to breathe, they can inhale the fumes from the oil and that can actually cause a lot of discomfort and damage to their lungs.
COOPER: You were saying when a dolphin comes up, its blow hole opens up to take in air, and it can actually be taking in oil, essentially getting oil inside itself?
COUSTEAU: Yes, and the fumes from the oil can -- will be inhaled and those fumes are very toxic and probably very painful.
COOPER: You said that the dolphins are an indicator species. I mean, what exactly does that mean?
COUSTEAU: Indicator species are species that show us what is happening in the environment and what can actually happen to human health as well. So, for example, when I was working with dolphins in the Indian River lagoon with Harbor Branch, we were looking at these dolphins that were, all of a sudden, having diseases that we had never seen before. They were suffering from brain viruses and heart murmurs and skin blisters and all sorts of things that we couldn't figure out what was causing them until we realized that what was causing them was all of the pollution that we were putting into the water.
And I think it's naive to think that if it's happening to marine mammals, it's not happening to us. I think we are just as sensitive to the environment as a dolphin is.
COOPER: Do you have any sense, I mean, long term, what this means for dolphins in the Gulf? Because, I mean, you see them -- I'm stunned. If you haven't been here, they're really everywhere. You see them. I was on a dock recently in one place and -- in Venice and there were dolphins right by the dock.
COUSTEAU: We saw a lot of dolphins close to shore. And I think that's happening for two reasons. They sense the oil. They're moving closer to shore where there isn't oil. And so there's a huge population surge right now of not only dolphins but sea turtles and fish and sharks and whale sharks. And that's because they're getting away from the oil. But what's happening is closer to shore, they're entering an oxygen depleted environment. And that's going to take its toll on them as well.
COOPER: I was out with the governor a couple of weeks ago here off one Barrier Island. And we saw a dolphin that seemed to be in distress and was basically just kind of circling around very close to shore. And they actually called it in to wildlife officials. I supposed if anybody comes across what they think is a dolphin in distress or an affected dolphin, they should try to call local authorities, local animal --
COUSTEAU: Absolutely. They should definitely not try to move the animal or put it back in the water. People who are trained to deal with these kinds of situations are the only people who should actually be touching or moving or taking care of the animal in any way.
COOPER: And is it possible that, you know, large numbers of marine mammals have died but have just sunk? I mean, they wouldn't necessarily wash ashore, correct?
COUSTEAU: They wouldn't. They wouldn't. And you know, Anderson, I mean, you've been down there. You've seen this as it happens. This is an experiment in so many ways. We've actually never dealt with something like this before. So, we have no way of knowing how the animals are being impacted, what's happening to them. There was a huge sperm whale that was found 77 miles south of the rig that was dead, had been dead about a week when it was found and nobody knows why it died.
It wasn't oiled in any way. 350 sea turtles have washed ashore so far, and many of them haven't been oiled either, the same with dolphin. So, we actually don't know why they're dying and we don't know how many are dying. We only find the ones that are ashore. So, you're absolutely right. We actually have no idea.
COOPER: It's incredibly disturbing. Alexandra Cousteau, appreciate you being with us. Thanks.
COUSTEAU: Thanks, Anderson.
COOPER: Up next, a family-run business here along the Gulf now in jeopardy. They have been distributing oysters off Louisiana since 1876 and came the BP spill and everything has changed.
COOPER: We've been saying over and over again on this program now for week that New Orleans and the rest of Gulf Coast are open for business. Most beaches are open across the Gulf. The city of New Orleans is alive and well. Restaurants are open. The food is great. The seafood is safe. Oysters, however, are starting to get harder to find, and the oil spill is already having a big impact on at least one New Orleans institution.
COOPER (voice-over): At P&J Oyster Company, business is a bust.
How many oysters would you normally get in every day?
SAL SUNSERI, P&J OYSTER COMPANY: We normally do about 30,000 oysters in a day.
COOPER: Processed (ph)?
SAL SUNSERI: Yes, right here. AL SUNSERI, P&J OYSTER COMPANY: Those shucked oysters are used for oyster (INAUDIBLE), oyster Rockefeller, oysters Bienville, all these great recipes.
COOPER: So, normally you would be getting, did you say, 30,000 oysters a day through here?
SAL SUNSERI: Just for the shuck. Just for the shuck. Now, we also sell whole oysters for the oyster bars and that's another, shoot, 20,000 a day.
COOPER: Walk-in refrigerator should be full of oysters.
AL SUNSERI: This is what we have left.
COOPER: These are the only oysters you have left?
AL SUNSERI: That's it.
COOPER: It's all but empty.
So, what is this? This is four, five, six, seven, eight -- you have ten bags of oysters.
AL SUNSERI: We have ten bags of oysters that will go to the oyster bars.
COOPER: I can't imagine what it's like for you, seeing this room empty.
SAL SUNSERI: It's a first. It's a first --
COOPER: Sal and Al Sunseri are the fifth generation in their family to run P&J's, a New Orleans oyster distributor for 134 years.
Can you get oysters now here?
SAL SUNSERI: We are still able to get a few oysters, but it's dwindling. And the Louisiana production is short because there's a combination of reasons, different variables. One being that there's too much fresh water coming in from the two freshwater diversions on the east and west side of the river. So, that causes mortality --
SAL SUNSERI: Kills off the oyster. And the other reason is we have precautionary closures throughout the state. Our farmers are not producing.
COOPER: So far, they've laid off 11 of their 23 employees. Wayne Gordon still has a job, but after 24 years here, he's not sure how much longer his job will last.
WAYNE GORDON, EMPLOYEE: We're close knit. We're like family here. And just to see everyone just to part their separate ways and saying this is it for us, we may not ever work together ever again is disheartening.
COOPER: P&J is going to start shipping in oysters from the east and west coast and their accountant is now preparing records to submit a claim with BP.
AL SUNSERI: We don't know where they'll take us. We're hoping that we'll be made whole. We don't know if that's going to occur.
COOPER: Al and his brother are still trying to figure out what happens next, still hopeful, they can, one day, bring back the Louisiana oysters they've always sold.
SAL SUNSERI: It's beyond our control. And the amount of oil that's out there, I just don't know what the future entails.
AL SUNSERI: I hope that in the future, we'll be able to come back. This is what I know. This is what we've learned. This is what we've grown up doing. So, hopefully, the future will be OK for the oysters, and P&J Oyster Company will be able to bring Louisiana oysters back. And all my hopes are that we'll be able to do this, and my son, you know, will be able to carry on our tradition.
COOPER: A tradition that survived countless natural disasters, but which may not survive this catastrophe made entirely by man.
COOPER: All right. Let's check some of the other headlines tonight. Randi Kaye joins us with the "360 Bulletin" -- Randi.
KAYE: Hi again, Anderson. An arrest to the May 20th (ph) summit in Toronto. Police there are arresting a man gasoline cans, chemicals, pellet guns, and a crossbow in his car. Police say they took him in when he could not explain why he had them.
Michael Jackson's last physician, Dr. Conrad Murray, wasn't the one to give the singer a fatal overdose of propofol. At least that's what Murray's attorney says, giving a hint of the defense strategy for his client. Murray has charged with involuntary manslaughter in the case. Tomorrow marks the one-year anniversary of Michael Jackson's death.
Arizona fire crews will be facing high winds and temperatures in the 90s tomorrow as they battle a blaze north of flagstaff. More than 14,000 acres burned. Officials say it all started with an unattended campfire that got out of control. Those are the other headlines, Anderson.
COOPER: Imagine battling those flames in that heat. Unbelievable. Randi, thanks. That's it from here.
Up next, Soledad O'Brien with a CNN documentary "Gary & Tony Have a Baby."