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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

Interview With Massachusetts Congressman Edward Markey; Oil Cleanup Concerns; Heat Wave Deaths; Climategate Scientists Cleared

Aired July 7, 2010 - 22:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN GUEST ANCHOR: Good evening again from the Gulf. Anderson Cooper is off. I'm Sanjay Gupta, filling in tonight.

You know, it's been truly sobering what this pipe at the bottom of the Gulf has done to so many lives. I have seen it firsthand now. Yet, when it comes to measuring how much oil is leaking, where it's going, what it's doing, BP doesn't seem to want to know, even says it's not important to know.

In a moment, you are going to hear from a renowned independent scientist. His name is Ira Leifer. He's a member of an all-star team of researchers who have come up with a plan -- it's called Deep Spill 2 -- to do all of the above, to measure the oil's impact.

Now, two months ago, he proposed an early version of it to BP. He heard nothing. Then, on June 10, Massachusetts Congressman Ed Markey got into the act, directing BP to contact Dr. Leifer. Still nothing. Then, last week, Dr. Leifer's team released a detailed proposal, 88 pages, $8.4 million to implement.

You guessed it, still nothing. Now, bear in mind, $8.4 million fifteen-hundredths-of-a-percent of the $5.6 billion BP earned in the quarter before the spill. It's about four-hundredths-of-a-percent of the $20 billion BP set aside for spill-related claims. And it's about 2.5 hundredths-of-a-percent of the $33 billion Sanford Bernstein today estimated the spill was going to cost BP.

You can decide for yourself whether that's a small cost for this company to pay.

I spoke about it earlier with Dr. Ira Leifer.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GUPTA: Now, Dr. Leifer, it's been more than three weeks since Congressman Ed Markey asked BP to give your group the green light to do this kind of testing, the kind of testing to measure the flow rate, to measure the impact overall of the oil on the ecosystem.

There's a huge list of things you're trying to study. And, yet, you have heard nothing from BP is my understanding. Why do you think that is?

IRA LEIFER, UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, SANTA BARBARA: I really don't know. I wish they would pick up a phone and just give me a call, so I could walk them through the proposal.

The experiment is very important. I have gotten very good feedback from scientists within the government and so on. And I'm hoping that having the full technical proposal for their consideration, they will, too, recognize its importance and actually give me a call.

GUPTA: The study that you're proposing, is it going to be of benefit to the people right now here in the Gulf, to the workers, to the residents of this community, the knowledge that you gain?

LEIFER: The simple answer is yes.

I mean, there are many things we just simply do not understand. We know there are plumes of oil in the deep sea. We don't know where we're going. We're don't know why. And, similarly, there's reports of submerged oil near the surface.

And any time one finds that one has to say I don't know or we're not sure about why, what's happening, you cannot respond effectively. You cannot protect the resources that need the greatest protection first, because you're operating in the dark.

And what science is all about is to shine a light on the darkness, so that we can actually do the best job possible to actually protect resources, people, fishermen, the ecosystem, lives, as well -- today -- as well as for our children.

GUPTA: And, as a scientist, you say that this is a unique opportunity to be able to study the impact of an oil spill like this.

And I keep coming back to the simple question, Dr. Leifer. And I think it's really at the core of this whole thing. Does BP, does the federal government want the American people to know what's really happening out there on the water, or don't they? I mean, because you're trying to find out what's actually happening, how much oil is coming out, and what the impact is.

Why -- why can't we get that simple answer almost three months into this?

LEIFER: I -- I -- I really do not know exactly why we are at the situation that we are in of still not knowing many very specific things.

Part of it has been the response mentality, in that always dealing with the current problem, what's around the corner for the next two days, instead of actually having plans that try to address more forward looking, which is what our team has put together, so that we can actually make plans and get the data that's needed, while the tornado is happening.

A good analogy here is that, if you study a tornado by looking at the broken houses, you don't learn how to build a house properly. You want to study it while it's happening. And, so, we're requesting, the team, that science be green-lighted, that science be brought to the fore to protect, because, when science is done, everyone wins.

GUPTA: Dr. Ira Leifer, if -- if you do hear from BP or get some of the funding necessarily to conduct those studies, please come back and tell us about it. We would certainly be interested in hearing from you. Thanks so much for joining us.

LEIFER: You're welcome. I hope I can have good news in the near future. Thank you very much.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GUPTA: And, as always, we reached out to BP today, trying to get an executive to come on the program. And I watch Anderson say this almost every night. I guess it's my turn now, I guess, to say the same thing.

We did mention Congressman Markey. He would come on with us, and we spoke a short time ago.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GUPTA: Congressman Markey, you wrote a letter to BP back on June 10 requesting specifically their support and funding for Deep Spill 2. This is the study.

First of all, has BP responded to your letter?

REP. EDWARD MARKEY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: BP has yet to respond to my letter. I have not heard back from them yet.

GUPTA: Well, you know, as a starting point, Congressman, given the enormity of what we're talking about here and the impact really across the entire country, why do we need BP's permission? I mean, why doesn't the government, for example, foot the around $8.4 million bill -- I think that's how much it costs -- and let these scientists get to work to answer some of the questions that you're raising?

MARKEY: Well, I think that BP should pay for it. I think that BP should stand for bills paid, and this is certainly something that BP should pay for.

I think it makes a lot of sense for this experiment to take place, especially the use of fluorescent dye in order to measure accurately how much oil and natural gas is coming out of this pipe.

And -- and I think, if it does require the federal government to pay for it, they should just put it on BP's bill, because, ultimately, BP doesn't want to know the answer to the question, because they have to pay a fine per barrel of oil.

And if it's gross negligence at $4,300 a barrel, the difference of just 10,000 barrels per day for 77 days is $3 billion. So, perhaps we shouldn't be waiting for BP to be spending that money, because they don't want to know how big their liability is.

They want to lower their liability. And, at the same time, the federal government, on behalf of the American people, have a stake in knowing just how big this problem is, so that the fine on BP reflects a punishment that is equal to the harm which they have inflicted on the people in the Gulf.

GUPTA: And, again, they have not responded to your letter. But you're -- you're convinced that this -- this is complete obstructionism; they simply do not want to know the answers that a lot of people want to know?

MARKEY: Well, right now, people say, BP says, experts say, that the flow could be 35,000 to 60,000 barrels a day.

Well, if it's 45,000 barrels a day, that's an extra $3 billion in fines. If it's 55,000 barrels, that's an extra $6 billion in fines. So, yes, there is a disconnect between the amount of scientific work that has to be conducted and finished, and BP's interest in actually conducting that research.

GUPTA: Yes. As things stand now, Congressman -- I mean, I'm down here looking at the health effects -- do we know if there are any long-term health effects of this oil spill? Do we know what they are and when they are going to start to happen?

MARKEY: Well, at the hearing in our committee, I demanded from Tony Hayward that he make accessible to the National Institutes of Occupational Health and Safety all of the information about all of the workers down there in the Gulf of Mexico.

And, up until then, they had been equivocating. Up until then, they had refused to do it. But, the next day, they began to turn over all of this information. And there was, as a result, an increase in the transparency.

But I think we're going to have to monitor this situation on an ongoing basis, because nobody knows better than you there are physical harms here, but there are also mental health consequences to -- to this event, because people's lives are being affected in a way that could change the whole course of families' histories.

GUPTA: It is really remarkable being down here, Congressman, for the reasons you just mentioned. And that's exactly what we are going to be talking about today, the physical and mental toll that it's taking.

Congressman Ed Markey, thanks so much for joining us.

MARKEY: Thank you for having me.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GUPTA: And there you have it.

Let us know what you think, of course. The live chat is up and running, AC360.com.

Just ahead: my conversation with the head of BP's medical response team in the Gulf and what he says about the number of cleanup workers they're treating. It surprised me.

But up next: a 360 investigation -- a former Exxon Valdez cleanup worker is speaking up about the cleanup today. His concerns, his allegations, we're "Keeping Them Honest."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GUPTA: You know, it's not just wildlife getting sick here in the Gulf. Oil cleanup workers are also falling ill.

And, tonight, BP is facing a serious accusation. Some critics say BP is taking a page straight out of a playbook they have seen before, more than 20 years ago, when the Exxon Valdez ran aground in Prince William Sound.

Drew Griffin of our Special Investigations Unit is "Keeping Them Honest."

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Roy Dalthorp says he started getting sick 21 years ago, when the Exxon Valdez hit a reef in Alaska. But, back then, he thought the Valdez was a blessing.

ROY DALTHORP, WORKED ON EXXON VALDEZ CLEANUP: I was out of a job. I was in hurtsville.

(CROSSTALK)

DALTHORP: I definitely had to do it. I had no choices on that, because I was behind on my house payments, so -- and no health insurance.

GRIFFIN: For six weeks, he worked on a ship that superheated seawater to pressure-wash Exxon's crude oil off of rocks -- his photos on board show the steam that he says was an oily, smelling mist permeating the ship where he worked 16-hour days. And that is when the cough began.

DALTHORP: Nobody ever checked with us, nobody. They never did a follow-up on us, never asked if we ever had any -- we ever had any consequences of it. They could have cared less. I'm serious. There was no follow-up.

GRIFFIN: Exxon told us it doesn't know how many cleanup workers became sick. Dalthorp never filed a lawsuit, never filed a claim. He could never prove the work he did on the Valdez made him sick.

(on camera): Exxon did pay to study the health effects of almost every single creature that came in contact with oil in Prince William Sound -- every creature but one.

DENNIS MESTAS, ATTORNEY: From clams and mussels, to fish and otters, and even deer and bears, but they never studied what this oil was doing to the workers, to the human beings in Prince William Sound.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): Alaska attorney Dennis Mestas represented one of the few workers who did sue, but, in the process, found out that hundreds of workers involved in the cleanup had fallen sick.

(on camera): And you found all of this out years later, based on...

MESTAS: On one worker that I represented.

GRIFFIN: Who is still sick to this day?

MESTAS: Who is still sick to this day. Even Exxon was forced to concede, eventually, that Gary Stubblefield was a very sick man.

GRIFFIN: Mestas' client, Gary Stubblefield, sued Exxon in the Valdez cleanup. Mestas traveled from Alaska to an Exxon office in Houston, where Stubblefield's medical records and those of thousands of other cleanup workers were being held, records Exxon has asked a court to seal for privacy reasons.

MESTAS: I was shocked, yes.

GRIFFIN: Mestas says the records reveal, of 11,000 cleanup workers, 6,722 had gotten sick. It was explained away as a simple virus, the so-called Exxon crud, a flu or cold that Exxon was not required to report to federal health officials.

At the time, NIOSH, the National Institute of Occupation Safety and Health, was in agreement.

MESTAS: Total B.S. The only epidemiology was that there were a few head colds that they could identify. And the -- and NIOSH didn't have any of the records.

GRIFFIN: Exxon never admitted fault in Stubblefield's case, but reportedly settled the lawsuit for $2 million -- Stubblefield one of the very few workers to get compensation.

Exxon says the few lawsuits brought failed to show any evidence of injuries or illnesses known to be caused by exposure to crude oil or the chemicals they used to clean it up. "Keeping Them Honest," Dennis Mestas, the attorney, says he is concerned that workers cleaning up in the Gulf today may be headed for the same fate as the Exxon Valdez workers. They get sick, while their medical records are controlled by BP.

Louisiana's Health Department has reported 128 cleanup workers believed to be sick from exposure to this spill, but BP tells us they have recorded just five illnesses related to inhalation exposures in the entire Gulf.

(on camera): BP is also insisting that government air testing is showing -- quote -- "We have not had a single reading above OSHA regulations to date."

And, as for respirators, the company says there has been no demonstrated need for them, no single issue high enough to warrant a respirator.

RIKI OTT, MARINE TOXICOLOGIST, EARTH ISLAND INSTITUTE: Anything that I thought...

GRIFFIN: Dr. Riki Ott, an environmental activist, studied the effects of the Exxon Valdez spill 21 years ago. With this BP spill, she says, once again, out-of-work fishermen are lining up for cleanup jobs that she says will put them in harm's way.

OTT: I'm feeling like BP is forcing them into this situation, where BP holds all the cards, and BP is letting these workers get sick.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): Back in Alaska, Roy Dalthorp's coughing has never stopped. He now has skin rashes, his health literally crumbling.

DALTHORP: Because I'm going blind.

GRIFFIN: You -- you think you were poisoned out there?

DALTHORP: Yes, yes, silently poisoned.

And that's what's happening to -- going to happen to those people down in the Gulf.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GUPTA: Drew -- Drew is joining us now.

You know, Drew, health officials are monitoring cleanup workers here in the Gulf. I mean, we have seen some of that. Are you -- are you saying that there was no one monitoring in Alaska and there was no follow-up either?

GRIFFIN: Sanjay, there was certainly nothing near the type of monitoring that's going on right now in the Gulf, and absolutely no follow-up.

In fact, ExxonMobil even confirmed that to us in an e-mail, saying that the lack of studies, they say, is due largely to the fact that the cleanup workers -- this is a quote -- "tended to be transient temporary workers, making any medical follow-up incredibly difficult."

Sound familiar?

GUPTA: Yes.

GRIFFIN: Congress is trying to make sure that that doesn't happen again, Sanjay.

And I just want to point out the -- the Committee on Energy and Commerce has sent a letter to the chairman of ExxonMobil, trying to not repeat these mistakes, asking for any and all health records that ExxonMobil might have still pertaining to that 1989 spill, and ask the question, really, of government itself, why there wasn't any government follow-up of these workers, like -- like Roy Dalthorp.

GUPTA: Right. You know, it's interesting, Drew, because so much of medicine is predicated on lessons learned. I mean, that's -- that's how you build knowledge.

Drew, stick around. Stick around and listen to this.

Earlier today, Dr. Kevin O'Shea -- he's the physician in charge of BP's medical response in the Gulf -- he told me that, in the four states affected by the spill, more than 1,500 workers have now complained of some illness or injury. He said he isn't aware of any significant respiratory illnesses as of yet.

I'll tell you, as a doctor, I was curious, what is BP doing to monitor possible long-term health effects from the cleanup, as Drew was just asking? Are they taking blood samples, for example, that will allow them to track changes in liver or kidney function in workers exposed to dispersants, like Corexit, which isn't even used in Europe because it's considered too toxic?

I started off by asking Dr. O'Shea about the specific symptoms we're hearing from these cleanup workers.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GUPTA: If someone has been out there -- and there -- and you have heard these complaints, I'm sure, like I have. They complain of -- of burning in their -- in their sinuses, in their throat, lightheadedness, nausea, headaches. What is that? Is that -- is that exposure to these toxic elements?

DR. KEVIN O'SHEA, BP'S MEDICAL UNIT LEADER: Regarding the symptoms that we're seeing, we don't have a good explanation.

GUPTA: Does it surprise you that there's not a good explanation? Because, I mean, they -- they're -- what a lot of people are telling -- are saying is that, look, we're smelling this stuff. We don't feel well afterwards. We are exposed to this stuff. We get rashes.

O'SHEA: Right. They -- and they do come in. And we do evaluate them. And we do treat them and -- and assure that there hasn't been any ill effect from a chemical out there. Sometimes, we can't explain why.

GUPTA: But, I mean, there are gray areas of medicine. You...

O'SHEA: Oh, absolutely, yes.

GUPTA: I mean, you know that probably better than anybody.

With regard to testing, if someone comes in with any kind of complaint, are you just getting baseline blood testing, or are you only doing it in cases where you're strongly suspicious of something?

O'SHEA: We do not have any set protocols out there. So, we rely on the -- the occupational medicine physicians, the emergency room physicians to do appropriate evaluation and treatment of the individuals.

So, I would know, in some cases, yes, there's blood work being done. In all cases, I can't tell you that.

GUPTA: You know, these patients coming in, they have -- they have cold-like symptoms. They have got these rashes and other things, and they're just told that this is all due to a virus. I mean, just -- that didn't sound right to me. Does that sound right to you?

O'SHEA: Not having -- not being able to evaluate any specific examples, but we have 40,000 responders out there. People will get sick as well.

So, I -- we are not influencing the practitioners out there in any way. We are reliant on them to use their clinical judgment, understand what the exposures are, and understand what the symptoms are, and give their best diagnosis for the situation.

GUPTA: Because of this -- this concern that, you know, you're -- you're with BP.

O'SHEA: Right.

GUPTA: A worker may say, look, you have got a dog in that race. If they come to you, a worker, and they're not happy with what you or your doctors have told them, can they go somewhere else?

O'SHEA: Absolutely.

GUPTA: And will that be covered by BP?

O'SHEA: Well, as far as going somewhere else, we know that people have bypassed the EMS personnel that we have and have gone in to their -- their -- see their personal doctors.

And we have -- we don't have a problem with that. They just need to go through the claims process and the workers compensation process. And that would be -- be handled that way. So, we know that it's happening. We're not forcing people to see any of the -- the health facilities that we have out in the field.

GUPTA: After Valdez, they said, of 11,000 workers that were studied, some reports say that more than 6,000 of them eventually were -- were -- got ill, some longer-term, some shorter-term, some very long-term, and they developed significant problems.

Is that something you worry about?

O'SHEA: It is. And that's why we have engaged the Institute of Medicine and other government agencies, Health and Human Services, NIH, to look at long-term health studies. We are...

(CROSSTALK)

GUPTA: But -- but there aren't any right now to look at, right? I mean, there's no... O'SHEA: The long-term health studies? No. I don't believe from any of the oil spills -- the Institute of Medicine had a -- a seminar here, and there -- there were not any long-term health studies that were out there.

(CROSSTALK)

GUPTA: So, you're working in a little bit of a black hole. I mean, you just don't have the precedent to base this on.

O'SHEA: For long-term health studies? No, we do not.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GUPTA: Well, up next, we're going to give you an update on the relief wells. They might be the only way of stopping oil that we're talking about. So, we will bring you a progress report.

And, later, what this is doing to the oysters and the generations of families who rely on them.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GUPTA: You're looking there at the leak, oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico for the 79th day -- 79 days. They have tried a giant containment box, top kill, top hat. They have been planning all week to hook up a third tanker to siphon off more oil, but choppy seas are stopping that from happening as well.

The only real hope of a long-term solution lies in drilling relief wells into the bottom of the leaking one and killing it from below.

You know, as a neurosurgeon, it's kind of annoying when someone says that something isn't brain surgery. In this case, though, it's close.

And Tom Foreman is here with the latest -- Tom.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Sanjay.

You know, this whole idea of drilling down through a mile of ocean water and then two miles of rock and sand and seabed, look at this when we dive down here and just contemplate what we're talking about. You're going through all of this, all in the hopes of hitting something about the size of a dinner plate.

That's how big the leaking pipe is all the way down where they're trying to hit it. That's a massive technological challenge. So, what if they miss? Then what? Well, for starters, they can try again. Look at this. These are the relief wells coming in here that we have been talking about all this time.

If they were to miss this with the one that's closest down here, they can try again. This drill can be repositioned, and they can take stab after stab at it, trying to get close, as long as the equipment holds up and there is hope that it might work.

Then, let's say they actually made the intercept. This is what we're talking about. Again, the pipe itself would probably be only about this wide underneath there. They have got to intercept it and then penetrate it from the side, cutting in from the sides over here.

Once they do that -- here is a measure of how difficult this is and how tough this pipe is -- the actual cut in could take a full week to accomplish. If they accomplish that, though, if that's done, then what you're going to see is the pumping of this heavy drilling fluid, or mud, we have talked about.

It will come down from here, into the line, and, gradually, it will start stacking up in the line as it's pushed upward by the oil. As it stacks up, because it's so heavy, it will be pushing down.

So, let's say that's not enough to stop it. Well, then, Sanjay, the option is, they look over here at the second line. They bring that second line in, and they try to bring in even more mud at a higher rate, pushing it in, increasing the rate to many, many, many tons.

The belief is that, somewhere, they reach a stasis here. And the cuts off the flow of the oil, and it stops it. At least, Sanjay, that's the theory about the relief wells.

GUPTA: You know, I'm -- I'm a little scared to ask almost, Tom, but let's say that also fails to stop the flow. It's a fascinating description. But -- but what else can be done? Are there any other plans?

FOREMAN: If that doesn't work, there are other plans that they're working on right now, one of them that you mentioned a minute ago.

Right now, we have been talking about this top hat sort of system, where they have a cap over the top of the blowout preventer down here, and they have lines that are coming up to ships up here that are taking this oil up and siphoning it off. They're capturing what they say is a pretty good bit from that right now.

They are trying to bring in another ship here. They've been held up by the bad weather, but if they can get another ship in there, the idea is that they run another line up there. They're even talking about a tighter-fitting cap down here. If all of that works the way they wanted to, they think they could possibly get up to 90 percent collection of the oil as escaping. At least, that is their stated goal, Sanjay.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN ANCHOR: You know, those are remarkable graphics, and it actually really makes it quite clear, and I hate to be sort of the Thomas doubtful here, Tom. In the sake of completeness, if nothing works -- a lot of -- my friends have been asking this, and the leaks in the bottom just continue to expand to the point they cannot be controlled, what then?

FOREMAN: Yes. That seems, Sanjay, to be highly unlikely when you talk to scientists. Really, one of the few ways that could happen is if you have some kind of catastrophic failure down here where you ended up with multiple leaks out of the sea floor, and you simply couldn't do anything about it. That seems really unlikely. But if you have something like that happen and this simply gushed and gushed and gushed, the thing is, no one knows.

The estimate of how much oil is in this reservoir vary from tens of millions of barrels to maybe a billion. So, sufficed to say if that remote circumstance came into being, you could look at years of oil spewing up into the Gulf like this, Sanjay. But, of course, we're very, very much hoping that won't be the case -- Sanjay.

GUPTA: All right. Yes. A lot of people optimistic right there with you as well. Fascinating stuff, Tom. Thanks so much. And Joe Johns is following some other important stories for us now. tonight as well, and he joins us now for the "360 Bulletin".

JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Sanjay, a 5.4 magnitude earthquake rattled Southern California. It was centered about 60 miles northeast of San Diego. No immediate reports of damage or injuries.

Meantime, the heat wave, baking the northeast, has claimed at least two lives, the latest, a Baltimore resident. Two straight days of triple-digit temperatures has caused scattered power outages in many eastern seaboard states and made life miserable throughout the region.

A teenage girl and a 20-year-old man are missing after a Philadelphia tourist boat flipped and sank when a barge hit it. Thirty-five people were rescued from the Delaware River, nine hospitalized for minor injuries.

An independent panel has cleared a group of scientists in the so- called Climategate controversy. Skeptics had claimed a chain of e- mails and documents leaked in 2009 prove that global warming was a hoax. But in its report, the panel said the scientists had high scientific standards and did not manipulate their data.

And here's one for you. "Paul," the psychic octopus, has scored again, predicting Spain would defeat Germany in today's semi-finals and it did. A 1-0 victory. "Paul" was 6 for 6 this World Cup. He calls matches by choosing between two containers of food, representing competing teams. You just have to wonder what on earth an octopus eats. Who knows?

GUPTA: It's a little creepy to look at.

JOHNS: I know.

GUPTA: You know, it got me thinking -- you're part of the best political team on television, maybe you could have that octopus help you with some of your game day call, Jeff.

JOHNS: Yes. And I bet he'd be a little bit better than some other people, present company not included.

GUPTA: The octopus correspondent (ph). Of course not, Jeff. Thanks so much.

And next on "360," a high price for the cleanup. Oysters, they're dying. Oyster men say not because of the oil but because of how it's being kept away and the men who rely on this work. Their lives are being changed forever. We're going to take you straight out on the water.

Also tonight, under arrest, a suspected serial killer who police say played a deadly cat and mouse game for 25 years. We got those details coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GUPTA: Recently, some oyster beds that were closed because of the spill were reopened. And that should be encouraging news, but it's not for some oyster men here. Here's why. Louisiana is diverting freshwater from the Mississippi to push away the oil from the marshes. And when freshwater mixes with saltwater, oysters can die. Oyster men have known that, known that these days were coming, but today, we saw that these days are, in fact, here. The oysters are dying. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

VLAHO MJEHOVICH, OYSTERMAN: As you can see, all these boats are tied up right now. You know, they closed the fishing ground due to all coming end (ph). None of these boats are working. You know, don't have much left with the freshwater coming and now the oil is coming, it's a dual thing, so, it's going to destroy probably everything out there. What freshwater doesn't kill, the oil will kill it all. Then that's it. Game over. A lot of dead oysters right here in this spot last time I was out here. One live crab. That's recent. Everything is dying. The little ones. Everything. That's dead. That's dead. That's dead. It's all within two weeks.

So, when they die, they break apart. This doesn't stay long. This does not stay -- it goes like this, like this stuff. See all this stuff? Dead. After so many days, this is fresh kill. These are all dead. It's disgusting. This is -- I mean, it takes an oyster from -- this oyster is about three months old. From it to get from this size to this size -- this is about a three-year-old oyster. Three years of damage you're looking at. It takes broke (ph) from that to that. 95 percent casualties. There are no oysters out here. There is no spirit (ph).

What I did is gone. It's in the water. Shot. It's dying now. It's going to keep dying. I've seen areas ten years go without oysters coming back. I mean, this is not something that's going to be done and fixed overnight. People have to understand. This is going to take years to come back. It's like what do you do? I had a business. Now, I don't have a business. My business was taken from me overnight. I have to go look for a job now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GUPTA: So, we want you to meet the oyster man that we just profiled in that piece. His name is Vlaho Mjehovich. Thanks so much for joining us.

MJEHOVICH: Thank you for having me on.

GUPTA: Everyone just heard your story. And you said that for right now, I mean, your job is done, and you don't have work. You know, we've been hearing a lot about these vessels of opportunity, using your boat to try and help with the cleanup efforts. There's a whole process involved with that. Is that something that you've been involved with or tried to do?

MJEHOVICH: Yes. I've called and registered a month and a half ago. And I haven't heard a response. I have three vessels, and they haven't called them at all. Right now, they can call you. You get on it, it's the best thing you can do right now in my line of work.

GUPTA: But you're just not hearing back?

MJEHOVICH: No. I'm not hearing back. There's 3,000 vessels registered right now. When I registered, there was about 400. And a lot of my friends registered after me got hired on. I really don't understand how this works. It's not fair.

GUPTA: You know, what happened to the oysters, a lot of people might relate to that. Is that a little bit of a forerunner of what happens to other fish? I mean, is this what's going to continue to happen?

MJEHOVICH: Yes. Out there, the water has to be brackish. The mixture of salt and fresh, it's going to destroy everything out there, what I'm seeing. The oysters can't move. The other stuff is moving around, trying to get away from it, and it's going to much catch it. Either the freshwater is going to kill everything now or the oil is going to -- it's coming to an end.

GUPTA: So, the mixture of freshwater, the brackish sort of water or the oil?

MJEHOVICH: Yes.

GUPTA: I don't mean to ask an obvious question, so what do you do now for the next several weeks or months?

MJEHOVICH: You try to take it day by day. You get up. You know, try to watch, you know, you don't spend any of the money you have. You got to live off of that now.

GUPTA: And most of the money you were making was during the summertime?

MJEHOVICH: Yes. That is our peak time to work is a summer. In my position, summer was the best. GUPTA: What do your colleagues think as you get together and have discussions? What do you think about next summer, for example, the summer after that? How long does this take?

MJEHOVICH: What I've seen out there today, the spat, those fingernails, they're dead. That takes three years to grow to mature, and they're gone. So, minimum three years for us to come back.

GUPTA: I appreciate you coming out and joining us.

MJEHOVICH: Thank you.

GUPTA: I think a lot of people need to hear what's happened to you. Thanks so much, Mr. Mjehovich. Appreciate it.

And next on "360," he is known as the grim sleeper. And tonight, police say they've finally captured the infamous serial killer. We got the details coming up.

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GUPTA: In crime and punishment tonight, the arrest of a suspected serial killer. For decades, police in Los Angeles have been trying to hunt down the grim sleeper. Today, they believe they finally caught him. Here's Randi Kaye.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He preyed at night, trolling the streets of South Central L.A. for victims, and there were many. It's believed Deborah Jackson was the first to die, the 29- year-old cocktail waitress left a friend's home on August 10th, 1985. Her body was found days later. Jackson was shot to death. Over the next two decades, he would take many more lives, all but one were black women. Some, working as prostitutes, most were shot to death.

DET. DENNIS KILCOYNE, LAPD: He would spot them and does spot them, victimize them and then just discards their body in alleys, like they're trash. He is a monster.

KAYE: A monster that detective Dennis Kilcoyne pursued for years, and he and his team believed it would only be a matter of time.

KILCOYNE: We got this beautiful DNA profile, all these dashes and dots and this and that, but there's no name, address or face to go with it.

KAYE: Now, they say they do. Lonnie David Franklin Jr., the 57- year-old, was arrested Wednesday in front of his home in south L.A.

CAPTAIN KEVIN MCCLURE, LAPD: We made an arrest here in the 1700 block of 81st Street of the suspect that has been known to many as the grim sleeper.

KAYE (on-camera): He's suspected of killing at least 11 women. But for now, police will only charge him with ten murders. He doesn't have a lawyer, and there's been no plea. But police say he is the killer they call the grim sleeper, a name coined because of the long gaps between killings.

KAYE (voice-over): News of the arrest reached the family of Alicia Alexander, who on September 11, 1988, asked her father if he needed anything from the store. She was found murdered days later.

PORTER ALEXANDER, FATHER OF VICTIM: I was so -- you just -- my body just -- such a good relief that I found that I had.

KAYE: Nineteen years after Alicia was taken, Franklin allegedly claimed his last victim. Janeisha Peters (ph) was discovered on January 1, 2007, shot in the back and dumped in a garbage bag. A quarter of a century of killing is over. And now, police say, they can finally put a name to the grim sleeper.

Randi Kaye, CNN, New Orleans.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GUPTA: Just some incredibly gruesome details there. Joining me now are criminologist, Casey Jordan and Margaret Prescod as well, who worked closely with the families of those allegedly murdered by the grim sleeper suspect. Thanks both of you for joining us. Casey, you know, I think that strikes me and most people, is it normal for serial killers to take such long breaks or intervals, I should say, between murders?

CASEY JORDAN, CRIMINOLOGIST: It's relatively unusual. I mean, what makes a serial killer is not just the fact that they have three or more victims, but that they have a cooling off period between the victims. Typically, these last a few months, sometimes a few years. Jeffrey Dahmer had a gap of maybe three years between his first and second victim. BTK had about a 15-year hiatus. But other than that, it's relatively rare to have a gap of maybe more than a year or two. The 14-year gap for Franklin is what led the trail to grow cold and why it's probably not a very famous case to people outside of Los Angeles.

GUPTA: That's right. I don't think a lot of people had heard of it outside of Los Angeles. Margaret, are you pleased with the way the LAPD has been handling the investigation into these murders? Anything they should have done differently?

MARGARET PRESCOD, FOUNDER, BLACK COALITION FIGHTS BACK: Well, let's hope that they've caught the guy. But that can't whitewash what has gone on before. This has been going on for over 25 years. A 911 tape was only released last year. It was taken in 1987 by an eyewitness. And we believe that there've been a lot of problems with the investigation. And, Sanjay, you and I know that if these murders had happened in Beverly Hills, in a wealthy part of Connecticut, you know, wealthy part of Manhattan, that this not only would have been local news, but it would have been national and international news. And we think that every life has to be a value.

GUPTA: Along those lines, Casey, most of the grim sleeper's victims were black, many were prostitutes. Do serial killers tend to murder victims that are alike in some way?

JORDAN: Right.

GUPTA: And what about Margaret's point?

JORDAN: Yes. The most common denominator in almost all of these is the vulnerability. Not really the race, but the occupation of being a streetwalker. Drug addict is the number one variable that we see in these victims. In other words, Margaret is absolutely right. They're very often considered the sort of population that society doesn't care about. And we see this typically. I could name a dozen serial killers that the general public has never heard of, prolific serial killers. But because of the nature of their victims, the cases never got the attention.

Police really left it as a very low priority, and we see that this is a real epidemic. It's not just the serial killers, but the fact that they get away with it because they choose people who won't be missed and who don't have empowered families to fight for the attention these cases need.

PRESCOD: Yes, but we can't assume that all of these women -- we can't assume all of these women were sex workers, by the way.

JORDAN: I didn't assume that.

PRESCOD: The got families -- yes, but I just want to underscore that point. Also, the hillside strangler operated in Los Angeles. I lived in New York City, and I knew all about it. The fact that these were black women in south L.A., I do believe that race played a factor, but we can all learn a lesson from here, and we can all move forward and realize whether it is one white young woman killed in Aruba or women in south L.A. that that's some mother's daughter, that's some father's child.

GUPTA: An important message, I think, for sure, Margaret. You have been in touch with many of the victims' families. How are they feeling? Are they still waiting to make sure that police have the right person before they breathe a sigh of relief?

PRESCOD: Well, I think everyone is being cautiously optimistic. I'm speaking more from the community end. I'm not speaking for families. They can speak for themselves, but we're being cautiously optimistic in the black coalition fighting back serial murders because we've been this route before. We want to make sure that the evidence is absolutely airtight, and it won't be like the case of Ricky Ross, the sheriff's deputy that was charged in some murder some time back and then released.

GUPTA: That's exactly what I was thinking of as well. Thanks to both of you so much for joining us. Dr. Casey Jordan and Margaret Prescod as well.

JORDAN: Great to be here.

GUPTA: And tomorrow, we got a "360" -- PRESCOD: Thank you.

GUPTA: Thank you.

GUPTA: And tomorrow, we got a "360" exclusive, a family torn apart just when they thought they'd achieved their dream. Abby Dorn, she nearly died after giving birth to triplets. She did survive, but just barely.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GUPTA: Look over here, Abby. Can you blink yes for me? Blink yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hold your eyes, Abby.

GUPTA (voice-over): Abby's parents, here with me, say she can communicate. Yes and no by blinking. Her ex-husband disagrees and says her blinking is simply spontaneous. It is not communicating.

GUPTA (on-camera): Does this hurt at all, Abby?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That was a yes.

GUPTA: Do you think she's communicating right now?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That was a yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: that was a yes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GUPTA: Abby Dorn's children are now 4 years old and haven't seen their mother since they were 1. Her parents say she has communicated that she very much wants to see her triplets, but her ex-husband says the children are too young and will be too upset seeing their mother in this condition. It's a tragic story that raises a lot of important compelling questions. My exclusive report tomorrow on "360."

Still ahead tonight, a new development in the story that we've been following along for some time now, the CEO of the BP-led Alaskan pipeline is stepping down. Why? We're keeping them honest.

And a baseball fan falls 30 feet trying to catch a foul ball, and he lives to tell about it. That incredible story, that's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GUPTA: We're live here in New Orleans, but there are a lot of news going on around the country and around the world. So, let's go back to Joe Johns with the "360 News and Business Bulletin" -- Joe

JOHNS: Sanjay, we start with a 360 follow and a story we've been covering extensively lately. The CEO of Alyeska, the BP-led operator of the Alaskan pipeline is stepping down under fire. Kevin Hostler, his departure comes after congressional criticism and findings of bad morale, lack safety, and corner cutting at the pipeline company. "360" has been keeping them honest from the beginning. We'll keep it up in the weeks ahead.

Wall Street rallied today. The Dow Jones Industrials adding 274 with stock leading the way.

A horrific fall during the Texas Rangers game last night. A fan reaching for a foul ball ended up tumbling from the second deck. He fell 30 feet, suffering a head injury, a sprained ankle, but he is doing fine tonight. I don't think we actually, fortunately, have video of what happened there.

GUPTA: Right.

JOHNS: But Sanjay, when you look at something like that, that really looks like quite a fall. I guess, the first question is, is this typically survivable, and is it surprising for a person to have relatively minor injuries like we're hearing we got tonight?

GUPTA: It is surprising. And you know, we didn't see the -- I didn't see the exact fall there, so that'd be important. But about, you know, about half people who fall more than three stories don't survive. So, a lot of it depends, as you might guess, Joe, on exactly how you fall. You know, falling feet first, he may have had some protection as he rolled around, that may have helped and also immediate medical attention as you see there, Joe. So, good luck to him. He had a visit from Nolan Ryan as well. That was important. We're going to have much more, Joe. Stay with us from the Gulf at the top of the hour. Stay with us.

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