Return to Transcripts main page
ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Oil Invades Gulf Wetlands; BP's Latest Containment Effort Stalls
Aired June 2, 2010 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening again. We are live from Louisiana tonight.
There is no other way to put it right now. Things down here are about to get worse. For starters, cutting and trimming that leaking pipe was interrupted today when the diamond saw they were using got stuck. They freed it, pulled it to -- a mile to the surface, and decided not to use it anymore.
The new plan is to resume cutting with those large shears you saw yesterday, but, because they're not as precise as the diamond saw, because they leave jagged edges, that the cap they plan to attach to collect the oil, that would have to be modified to fit.
Up above, the oil is spreading. There's no doubt about it -- 37 percent of the Gulf now off limits to fishing. Let me just repeat that for you: 37 percent of Gulf off limits to fishing. We're talking shrimp, oysters, bluefin tuna. More than a third of their habitat is now in jeopardy.
And that's not all. Take a look. These are patches of oil just a few miles off the coast of Pensacola, Florida. Authorities expect it to make landfall within the next 24 to 48 hours.
Now, meantime, more from BP CEO Tony Hayward. He admitted his company had not been entirely prepared for a leak such as this. Clearly, we knew that. He also issued an apology today for saying he wants this disaster over because he would like his life back.
But then he went to say, telling "The Financial Times," that the oil containment effort has been -- and I quote -- "very successful in keeping oil away from the coast" -- "very successful."
"Keeping Them Honest" tonight, that is not what we saw today in at least one part of the marshes.
ANDERSON COOPER (voice-over): The marshes of Pass a Loutre are silent. Thick, dark crude covers the water. It coats the reeds. You see no birds, no bugs. Nothing is as it should be.
(on camera): Once the oil in this marsh, there's really not much that they can do. You can already see a lot of this is supposed to be green. But, as the oil has been sitting here for several weeks now, all these reeds turned yellow. They're basically just dying off.
(voice-over): We came here for the first time last week with Governor Bobby Jindal and Billy Nungesser, president of Plaquemines Parish. Today, when we returned, we assumed that, with all the promises and plans, this one area at least would have been cleaned up. We were wrong.
(on camera): This is the exact same spot we were in a week ago, literally the exact same spot. And, as you can, all the oil is -- it's still here. BP apparently sent people out. They put down some absorbent pads. They replaced the booms, but the oil is back, if it ever really went away. These marshes are dying.
GOV. BOBBY JINDAL (R), LOUISIANA: This is just one. There -- there are other areas like this that have gotten this kind of heavy oil. This has been here a couple of weeks. And you have got other areas like this. What we're saying is, Louisiana has got over 7,000 miles of our coastline.
Let's fight this oil out on barrier islands. Let's fight this oil on a hard, sandy surface. Let's not fight this oil inside here.
ANDERSON COOPER: So, Billy, when you hear Tony Hayward saying, you know, he wants his life back...
BILLY NUNGESSER, PRESIDENT, PLAQUEMINES PARISH, LOUISIANA: It's embarrassing. How can a -- how can a human being not have compassion for what's going on here? How can they meet -- how can his board not throw him off, fire him?
ANDERSON COOPER (voice-over): In addition to cleaning up the marshes, BP has now been ordered to pay for about 40 miles of berms to be built other prevent even more oil from getting into these wetlands. But, so far, the governor says they haven't seen any money from BP for the project.
JINDAL: We have said to BP now for days, either cut us a check or get this done yourself, either way. Either sign the contracts or get out of the way and let us do it.
We have identified where the dredges are. We have identified the contractors that can get this done. We can't care. If they want to get their own dredge, that's fine. They can do it themselves or they can write us a check, but, either way, get out of the way. Get this done.
ANDERSON COOPER: For Billy Nungesser, who has been working around the clock, the sight, the smell, it was all too much.
NUNGESSER: What do those officials at BP meet about when they see this kind of destruction, and not want to do everything physically possible to stop it? How do you get to them? How do you get inside their head?
ANDERSON COOPER (on camera): Why is this so emotional for you, Billy? NUNGESSER: You don't get the calls I get every night. This is their lives.
ANDERSON COOPER (voice-over): Before leaving, I dip my hand into the oil once more. Without a glove, you feel how warm it is, how thick. It is a sickening feeling. And no matter what BP says they're doing to clean it up, more and more of it is now coming ashore.
ANDERSON COOPER: Joining us now, political contributor, Gulf resident Mary Matalin, also Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser, who you just saw in that report.
I mean, Mary, you were out there a week ago in that same spot. When you see it now, tonight, I mean...
MARY MATALIN, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: It's shockingly more dead, if there's such a thing. And it looks like the marshes are starting to break apart. They just sink. People still aren't getting this, that...
ANDERSON COOPER: Can they clean up once it's in the marshes? I mean, you said they were out there with pads trying to soak up some of the stuff.
NUNGESSER: You saw some of the footage that was presented by one of the cleanup teams wiping the blades of grass. I mean, they're moving a couple thousand people to Plaquemines Parish. Look at that. Do you think you can clean that up?
The only thing we can do is go in there with some huge vacuums, suck up that oil, or a machine like Kevin Costner posed, that will take the oil, put the clean water back overboard with 1 percent oil, 99 percent of that oil into a tank. Those large pools of oil need to be vacuumed up.
ANDERSON COOPER: What -- now, the one BP guy who's ever talked to me, because they don't talk to me anymore, but one guy off-camera said to me, well, there's all these state laws that prevent us from -- from cleaning it up like that.
NUNGESSER: Absolutely not true. You know, we can give the governor -- we -- we went there in today. There's a way in and a way out. You can't go in with 100 boats and trample all the (INAUDIBLE) over.
You bring a hose in there. You suction out those ponds. And then you move on to another area. It will come back again the can. You come back and suck it again. If we don't, that oil we saw, it will stay there. That -- that marsh is dead. The next storm, it will roll further inland and kill another area of marsh, and another, and another. It's three weeks now. We should have been out there picking...
(CROSSTALK) ANDERSON COOPER: so, even though that marsh is probably dead, you are saying it's still important to get that oil out of there?
NUNGESSER: Absolutely. It's going to go somewhere else. And if we have a storm, it will be inside the levees. I mean, it has got to be picked up. What are they waiting for?
MATALIN: And the boom there is actually doing more damage you saw last weekend. It's still there. The boom is now trapping what's in there.
MATALIN: It's counterproductive.
ANDERSON COOPER: And then you said they collected some of the boom, but they put in new stuff, but it's...
NUNGESSER: Well, no, we called after we got back today, because they put plastic boom, but they picked up the absorbent boom that was soaked with oil.
ANDERSON COOPER: Right.
NUNGESSER: But they didn't put new down.
ANDERSON COOPER: Yes.
NUNGESSER: So, we called right after we got to shore.
ANDERSON COOPER: It's amazing to me that, I mean, if you're going to clean up any one spot, you would think they would clean up the one spot that the governor and you went to a week ago, in the off chance you might come back.
And, lo and behold, sure enough, we came back today, and, I mean, it was all still there.
NUNGESSER: They don't have a plan.
ANDERSON COOPER: BP doesn't have a plan...
NUNGESSER: BP. You know, we have shown them equipment that will work. And it's been delay, delay, delay. You saw the machine at the dock, the water/oil separator.
ANDERSON COOPER: Right.
NUNGESSER: It's been sitting in my parking lot for a week. We moved it down there today, in hopes of embarrassing them into putting it in the water.
ANDERSON COOPER: We have got to take a quick break. We're going to have more with Billy and Mary in just a second.
As always, the live chat is open, if you want to communicate with viewers around the world watching right now, at AC360.com. Join the conversation.
Still ahead tonight: They can no longer fish because the oil is everywhere. Now they're trying clean it up. And some are actually getting sick. BP's CEO -- BP's CEO says it's not the oil, maybe, but maybe something they ate. Maybe they got food poisoning. We will talk to Billy. And Dr. Sanjay Gupta is going to join us to talk about that, "Keeping Them Honest."
Also ahead: If you think what's on the surface is bad, what is underneath? We're talking about those plumes of oil that researchers say they have discovered in the Gulf and BP denies. Congressman Ed Markey is demanding they prove it. We're going to hear from them short -- from him shortly.
We will be right back.
ANDERSON COOPER: We're back in New Orleans talking with Mary Matalin and Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser.
The oil spreading, now within 24 to 48 hours of coming ashore at Pensacola, Florida -- more cleanup workers now at work, yes, but a lot more places could soon be hit.
Also, these stories now which we're going to look into with Dr. Sanjay Gupta in a moment about workers getting sick.
You've talked to some of these workers. The CEO of BP is saying, well, maybe it was food poisoning.
NUNGESSER: Well, the two -- the two guys I talked to over in Grand Isle were out in the boat, and they had said they saw the plane overhead spraying.
And one of them had been in the hospital. He had just been released, and was nauseous, throwing up, vomiting, headaches, shortness of breath, and he was at home resting. We have had similar cases of nausea, eyes burning, sore throat. And the feds are sending down a hospital unit to Plaquemines to start testing people as they come in.
ANDERSON COOPER: To -- to your knowledge, were -- were these people eating in the same location?
NUNGESSER: Well, Grand Isle is three hours away from Plaquemines Parish. I don't think they ate in the same place.
ANDERSON COOPER: Mary, you're concerned about the moratorium on -- on deepwater drilling that President Obama has talked about, a six- month moratorium.
MATALIN: Everybody is so focused on the immediate, as they need to be, and everything is like pulling teeth on every single issue.
But the moratorium is so unclear. It doesn't just go to deepwater, the wells were already inspected when they sent down the SWAT team. It goes to anything at a depth greater than 500 feet. That's shallow.
So, the offshore servicing industry -- and the Interior Department's own report says 150,000 direct jobs.
This is all of your people. This is not fishing and tourism. This is, like, huge...
ANDERSON COOPER: We should point out, Governor Bobby Jindal today sent a letter to President Obama and also to Secretary Salazar, expressing concern about that because of the economic impact.
MATALIN: And it's not just for Louisiana. This is Texas. This is Mississippi. This is economic -- these are more jobs will be lost faster than all the jobs that are being created.
ANDERSON COOPER: And, yet, they're -- you know, a lot of people are going to be listening to this and saying, well, look, you know, how -- how can you go ahead with all -- deepwater drilling right now if you're concerned that MMS is, you know, kind of out to lunch and hasn't -- hasn't been on the job? Is this the time to go ahead with that?
MATALIN: They can go well by well. They have already been inspected. This would be like shutting down the entire airline industry because you have one air crash. They can go rig by rig. They have already done it once.
And these are other producers. This is not BP. These are producers with great safety records, and it's shallow water. But, because the policy is so unclear, and they got a different directive in their private meeting than in the paper, everybody is shutting down.
NUNGESSER: You know, you -- you -- we know there's problems with this well, reports from people that were on the rig before, stuff in the pipe, the battery dead. We know there were problems.
Let's check these other rigs out quickly, make sure they don't have similar problems. But, like you were saying, when we have a plane crash, it's a tragedy, but we don't shut all the airlines down. We make the plane better, find out why it crashed, make them better, make them safer.
ANDERSON COOPER: Let me ask you about the -- the berm project, which you have been pushing for -- really from early on, and saying, look, if folks out there had a better idea, come up with it, but -- but, you know, in lieu of that, let's move forward on this.
Finally today, you got word from the Obama administration they gave, not only permission, but they said they're going to have BP pay for six total. You had one already paid for -- that was going to be paid for. So, now it's six total berms. You wanted 120 or 140-plus mile miles. You're going to get about 40 miles of berm.
But BP hasn't even paid for the one that was approved a week ago.
NUNGESSER: No, we need -- we really appreciate the president stepping up and -- and demanding they pay for it. And it will keep the oil out of the marshes.
We need to demand tomorrow that they get off the pot and give us the money, or sign the contract, and let's get started.
ANDERSON COOPER: But, I mean, you could say, OK, well, maybe it's taken a day or two. It's been a week that they had to approve one -- to pay for one two-mile berm, and they haven't done it.
NUNGESSER: Tomorrow, they need to step up to the plate. We're not waiting. We are going to move dredges. And they need to pay for -- pay for what the president said they need to pay for.
ANDERSON COOPER: When you -- I mean, you have had a long day of many in the last, you know, five-plus weeks.
When you out there today -- I mean, when you go to bed at night, what do you think? What do you...
NUNGESSER: You know, I have always said, if we're not doing everything physically possible, we're letting the people -- I'm letting the people of Plaquemines down. And if the federal government, BP and the Coast Guard is not doing everything physically possible to save those wetlands and the years and generations of fishermen, we have let the American people down.
ANDERSON COOPER: And I -- just for -- again, because, before I came here, I didn't understand really the wetlands and the whole marsh area.
It's not some sort of tree hugger, touchy-feely thing that you're saying, gosh, it's just important to keep these wetlands. I mean, this is -- this is serious money. This is, you know...
NUNGESSER: It feeds 80 percent -- all the fish life, it all starts in those wetlands. Eighty percent of the Gulf, life begins in these marshes.
ANDERSON COOPER: Eighty percent of the Gulf life begins in those marshes?
NUNGESSER: All the -- the smaller fish feed on the bigger ones, the shrimp, the oysters, and the way of life for all South Louisiana.
You met some of the people. They don't know if they will ever get back. And if -- if we have a hurricane come and picks up that oil and drops it in the marsh, we're finished. Will it be 10 years, 20? A hurricane's over. We pick up our boots, we get back to work. This is an ongoing thing.
ANDERSON COOPER: So, when you hear BP, you know, Tony Hayward, saying, well, we have been very successful at keeping this offshore?
NUNGESSER: That's a lie. It's an absolute lie. He needs to come touch what we touched today.
ANDERSON COOPER: He hasn't been out in the marshes?
NUNGESSER: Absolutely not.
ANDERSON COOPER: He's been on the beaches maybe at Grand Isle or Port Fourchon.
NUNGESSER: And, look, we would love to have the beaches. We don't want it anywhere, but we scoop it up off the beach.
You saw that marsh. We will never clean it out of there. That marsh is dead. This oil will pick apart Louisiana one at a time...
ANDERSON COOPER: Piece by piece.
NUNGESSER: ... one area at a time, piece by piece, and we will die a slow death.
MATALIN: Which, by the way, just to add to this, it could -- not that any time would be a good time, but now is the mating, spawning, nesting. It's wiping out this generation and the -- all the foreseeable generations.
ANDERSON COOPER: Mary, I appreciate you being here.
Billy, I appreciate you coming down as well. Thank you very much.
As always, 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.
Just ahead: 360 M.D. Sanjay Gupta on the story that Billy was just talking about, those fishermen getting sick and BP saying, well, maybe it's food poisoning. Will look into that with Dr. Gupta.
Also tonight, meet the fishing captains who say BP hired them for the cleanup, but has yet to pay them a dime. And a lot of fishermen I know got paid maybe a $5,000 check, but they have been sitting around now for a month.
We're "Keeping Them Honest" -- when we continue from New Orleans.
ANDERSON COOPER: Well, Billy Nungesser talked a little bit about it a before the break.
Some of the workers that BP has hired to clean up the oil spill have fallen ill. Now, out of the water, they have been breathing in -- out on the water, they have been breathing in oil fumes day in and day out. Some have been hospitalized, as you heard, for headaches and nausea. The CEO of BP, Tony Hayward, was asked about workers getting sick. Here's what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TONY HAYWARD, CEO, BP GROUP: I'm sure they were genuinely ill. But whether it was anything to do with dispersants in oil, whether it was food poisoning or some other reason for them being ill, you know, there's a -- food poisoning is clearly a big issue when you have got a, you know, concentration of this number of people on -- in temporary camps, temporary accommodation.
It's something we have to be very, very mindful of.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON COOPER: So, Mr. Hayward saying not exactly that it is food poisoning, but bringing it up as a possibility.
"Keeping Them Honest," let's talk to 360 M.D. Sanjay Gupta.
Does that make any sense, food poisoning? I mean, Billy Nungesser said these folks are, in some cases, dozens, if not hundreds of miles apart.
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's a place to start, to see if they all ate the same food. And, as it turns out, they didn't.
And the people who are the most exposed to oil and chemicals were the people who got sick. So, also, the symptoms -- I mean, nausea and vomiting might make sense, but the respiratory problems unlikely to be food poisoning.
You know what struck me even more, Anderson, was, a lot of the fishermen simply have not been talking about this at all. And it's been very hard -- and today was the first time that we actually got someone to sit down and talk us and really explain what they had been seeing and experiencing.
Take a look.
GUPTA (voice-over): Acy Cooper is a third-generation shrimper, but, for more than a month now he's been on the water cleaning up oil.
(on camera): Tell me again. Like, if someone breathes in some of this stuff, even at the time they're breathing it in, just at that time, what -- what does that feel like and what do they experience?
ACY COOPER, VICE PRESIDENT, LOUISIANA SHRIMPERS ASSOCIATION: Right away, you're going to get a headache, a severe headache, and then probably have a rapid heart rate.
GUPTA (voice-over): Acy didn't want to have this interview, but he felt compelled to break his silence.
(on camera): You may be the first actually speaking on this. Why -- why are you talking to us?
ACY COOPER: We need a voice. Somebody has to speak out. And, if it has to be me, well, it has to be me.
GUPTA (voice-over): BP required all these cleanup workers, fisherman and others who mainly make a living from the Gulf, sign a nondisclosure form. Acy could lose this cleanup job, his only source of income. But he doesn't care anymore. He's worried.
ACY COOPER: We don't want to lose anybody. This is our friends and families out here.
GUPTA (on camera): What he's talking about is breathing in crude oil, or petroleum. It's a hydrocarbon. Carbon is the energy source surrounded by a bunch of hydrogen molecules. It gets refined in the things that you may know better, like gasoline, for example, diesel fuel down here, propane.
And, when you breathe it in, all sorts of things can happen. Someone may feel nauseated. They may have vomiting. They may have headache. Now, what this does is suppress the nervous system for a period of time. Someone can feel drunk, sort of anesthetized. But here's the thing. Take a deep breath in of fresh air, simply get off the boat, a lot of those symptoms should go away.
Does the oil, the dispersant combination, everything that we have been talking about for the last month, does it pose a problem to human health?
RIKI OTT, MARINE TOXICOLOGIST: Absolutely, yes, unconditionally, yes.
GUPTA (voice-over): Riki Ott is a Ph.D. oil pollution expert who has worked with families affected by the Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska.
(on camera): So, you -- literally, you breathe the stuff in, and it can cause -- you know, even suppress your central nervous system for a period of time.
But what they tell me then is, you literally turn your head, you take a breath of fresh air, you get off the boat, it goes away, it should be fine, the short term is all there is.
Is that true?
OTT: What happened was, people went home, and they thought they would get better. At the end of the cleanup in September, they didn't.
And I am still dealing with workers now, 21 years later, who have this persistent immune system suppression. So, they're kind of sick all the time, respiratory problem, brain fog, dizziness. GUPTA (voice-over): I checked myself. And the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health did report an increase in respiratory problems among Valdez cleanup workers.
And a 2003 survey done by a Yale grad student found Valdez cleanup workers who had the most exposure to oil and chemicals reported conditions such as chronic airway disease and neurological impairment over a decade later.
(on camera): How bad does this get? I mean, how -- how -- what's the worst-case scenario. I mean, you have all these -- all these, again, friends of yours, colleagues, people you have known, breathing this stuff in.
You're reading the papers right here with me. Let me read you this. It says -- we're talking about just the oil now -- they're -- the volatile organic compounds are among the most toxic components. Many of them are associated with long-term health effects. Some of them are carcinogens, meaning they cause cancer.
What about it?
ACY COOPER: Why have -- why we don't have adequate protection, that's what I want to know.
GUPTA: I can see, I mean, this -- I mean, you're really personally affected by this, I can tell just from the couple minutes I have been talking to you.
ACY COOPER: Sure.
GUPTA: I mean, what is -- what is -- are you sleeping well? I mean, how's your life been?
ACY COOPER: I have two sons out there working. I want to see them grow up.
Sure, it's personal. It's very personal. It hurts you.
GUPTA: And, Anderson, I can tell you, here -- here's what BP is telling us.
There has been a great deal about this, and a great deal of attention in the press specifically about these respiratory masks, the protection, with particular emphasis on these boat crews. The data shows that the airborne contaminants is well within safe limits. That's what they're saying.
Additionally, BP has said publicly its's not going to hold cleanup workers like Acy Cooper to the nondisclosure clause. But they say others say they signed a contract, and they're not sure if they actually trust what BP is saying, necessarily, so they're sort of sticking to it. ANDERSON COOPER: Yes, it is very hard to talk to -- to folks who are involved in the cleanup, because they have all signed this contract, and they don't want -- you know, they need -- they need the jobs. They want to help in -- we should point out Acy Cooper is no relation to...
GUPTA: Yes, it was amazing.
GUPTA: One two, Anderson Cooper, Acy Cooper...
ANDERSON COOPER: So, I mean, that -- that document you were reading, that's from the EPA about working up close with oil.
GUPTA: Yes. I mean, this is very clear.
I mean, this is an actual existing document. It's been around for a long time, known carcinogens, these volatile organic compounds. You're supposed to wear a respiratory mask.
The dispersant, they say, should never be used without a respiratory mask. Yet, so many people simply don't have one.
ANDERSON COOPER: We have got a Coast Guard helicopter, what looks like a Coast Guard helicopter, passing us by. We just wanted to tell you what that noise is. We also have a ship from NOAA behind us that's going to be working in part of this cleanup and testing operations coming up.
Sanjay, you have got a special report tomorrow night. Is that...
GUPTA: That's right. It's called "Toxic Childhood."
You know, we have been talking a lot about environmental toxins. We had a report tonight specifically about one town here in Louisiana. The question a lot of people ask is, what -- what can I do to make myself saver? You don't have to turn your life upside down. It's the stuff that I have learned over the last year -- tomorrow night.
ANDERSON COOPER: All right, we look forward to watching that. That's tomorrow at...
GUPTA: Eight p.m.
ANDERSON COOPER: ... 8:00 p.m.
All right, we will be watching. Sanjay, thanks. Still ahead on 360: something else for the cleanup crews to worry about, think about: getting paid. BP has hired charter boats to help with the cleanup, but some captains who have been working for weeks say they are still waiting to see a check. You will hear from them ahead.
Plus: the manhunt under way for that guy Joran van der Sloot. He was a suspect, you may remember, in Natalee Holloway's disappearance five years ago. Now he's wanted in the killing of a woman in Peru -- details on that ahead.
COOPER: Hey, welcome back. We're live in New Orleans tonight.
You know, as we've been reporting, and you have been seeing, thousands of fishermen have been hit especially hard because of the spill. They can't get work. Some, however, were lucky enough to get hired by BP to help in the cleanup effort. Certainly a lot more, frankly, want to get hired but haven't been called. They were signed to help in the cleanup effort. But several charter boat captains have now come forward to say that they still haven't been paid for their work or owed thousands of dollars in back pay.
Gary Tuchman tonight reports.
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Here in Venice, Louisiana, this 35-foot fishing boat was pulled out of the water so it could be cleaned of oil from the BP spill.
MIKE ELLIS, BOAT CAPTAIN: We still have to have our boats.
TUCHMAN: The boat's captain is Mike Ellis.
ELLIS: I'm running the boat through oil. I'm running it through a foot and half, two feet of water. I mean, I'm destroying my boat to make a living.
TUCHMAN: His entire adult life, his living has been to take people fishing. But there is now no fishing. Instead, he's working for BP. He's one of many people hired by the oil company so their boats can be used to help in the cleanup effort.
There's a problem.
ELLIS: I sent them an invoice and called the office four days later just to make sure. "We can't even tell you we have your invoice yet."
TUCHMAN: Mike Ellis says he's owed more than $15,000. So far he's gotten zero.
Mike Burnett (ph) is the president of the Venice Charter Boat and Guide Association and represents charter captains. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm going to turn to the contract. After the submission of the invoice, 15 days from that time, they're supposed to be compensated.
TUCHMAN: Burnett (ph) says many of his members have waited longer than 15 days and got nothing. Mike Ellis has waited more than three weeks.
ELLIS: But right now, we can't be too mad and we can't run our mouth too much, because then they could boot us out of the whole program and then we're totally stuck.
TUCHMAN: Indeed, some fishermen who haven't been paid were afraid to talk us to, because they feared getting in trouble with BP. But the man who did not want to get mad seemed to get madder as he continued to talk.
ELLIS: I think it is a combination of let's snow them and blind them with bull (EXPLETIVE DELETED) and put these people to work and say they're going to get paid. Yes, they will eventually pay us, sure, but at their time, not on our time.
TUCHMAN: Another charter captain who hasn't gotten paid is more forgiving.
LARRY HOOPER, CHARTER BOAT CAPTAIN: It's there. It's coming. I'm confident.
TUCHMAN (on camera): You're not worried about it?
HOOPER: No, no. Shame on BP if they turn around and start playing games with the money.
TUCHMAN: Many new employees have received their first paychecks from BP. But what about the ones who should have gotten paid?
BP press officer Darren Beaudo tells CNN, "Although I am not aware of specific instances when payment has been delayed, we'd request that vessel captains get in touch with BP for remedy. They can contact me personally if they wish."
ELLIS: We did not wreck our business and ruin -- run our clientele off.
TUCHMAN: And that is what Mike Ellis says he will do.
ELLIS: They made a mistake, which is fine. A mistake, it is what it is. Now, if you make a mistake, you've got to own up to it. Be a man, own up to it.
COOPER: You know, I understand a company like BP wanted people to sign confidentiality agreements, workers who were working for them so that they don't talk to -- to, you know, any reporter comes by. You know, fine. That's their right. But there's something infuriating about people living in the United States of America afraid to talk, because they are in such a vulnerable position from a foreign company that their livelihoods can be destroyed if they actually just say what is actually happening to them. I mean, that's -- that is a situation that is deeply unfair. And I mean, this guy is incredibly brave for coming forward. He's risking his entire livelihood.
TUCHMAN: At first he was afraid to talk us to, and the longer and longer he talked, the madder and madder he got. And I say this to people all the time, stories like this. You know, this isn't Cuba; this isn't the former Soviet Union. People are allowed to talk. And when public relations people at huge corporations tell the people who work for them not to talk, that's a sign there's something wrong.
COOPER: Especially if you're supposed to be paid by a company and you haven't received. I mean, it's -- we should follow, make sure to keep in touch with this guy, just in case he suddenly is, you know, mysteriously dropped from the contract with BP. Just to check and make sure. Because, I mean, people need to know that they can come forward and talk about what is really happening. It's not as if they're making allegations which are false or completely manufactured.
TUCHMAN: Well, Captain Mike told me, "Maybe tomorrow I won't have a job."
I said, "Captain Mike, because you're on CNN and we're talking about you, if they get rid of you, let us know. We'll do another story." And I doubt they're going to get rid of Captain Mike after this story.
COOPER: I mean, it's good if people come forward, because unless people come forward, we're not able to talk about what's really going on. And no one else will know about it, and things won't get fixed.
TUCHMAN: I agree with you 100 percent.
COOPER: All right. Gary, appreciate it.
We're following some other important stories tonight. Joe Johns joins us now with a "360 News & Business Bulletin" -- Joe.
JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Anderson, a manhunt is under way tonight for Joran Van Der Sloot, the Dutch man wanted in Peru wanted in the killing of a 21-year-old woman whose body was found Monday in a hotel room registered in his name.
Van Der Sloot, you may remember, was a suspect in the 2005 disappearance of Natalee Holloway, an American who vanished while visiting Aruba.
Authorities have released a 911 call made by actor Gary Coleman's wife, two days before he died. Shannon Price told the dispatcher she found Coleman on the floor after hearing a noise.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SHANNON PRICE, WIFE OF GARY COLEMAN: His head is bloody. There's blood all over the floor. I don't know what happened. I really don't know what happened. I just heard this band, and I went down. Send someone quick because I don't know like if he's going to be alive. There's a lot of blood on the floor. I just don't want him to die. I'm freaking out like really bad.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JOHNS: Price also told the dispatcher she left her injured husband downstairs because she had a fever and was afraid she would faint. The dispatcher convinced her to give Coleman a towel to apply pressure his head. Coleman was conscious when paramedics arrived.
Ted Haggard is starting over on a smaller scale. He's forming a non-denominational church open to everyone, he says, regardless of political or sexual orientation. Its first gathering, he says, will be in his home. Four years ago, Haggard's career as a mega church pastor was ruined by a gay prostitution and drug scandal.
A big rally for stocks, fueled by a rebounding energy sector. The Dow rose nearly 226 points, its third biggest gain this year.
Anderson, back to you in the Gulf.
COOPER: Joe, thanks a lot. Coming up next, deep water danger, reports of oil plumes beneath the Gulf. BP says that don't exist, but they said they want to see more facts. So do we, of course. We want to see the facts always. Others say they do exist and believe they pose a huge threat -- threat. We'll look at the facts of what we know, ahead.
COOPER: Well, given the failed attempts to stop the leak, frankly, the only thing we can predict about this disaster is that, for now, the oil is going to continue to spill into the Gulf, hundreds of thousands of barrels each and every day until BP stops it. Well, hundreds of thousands are already there until BP stops it.
Of course, we can only see the oil that's on the surface. The question is what about the danger below? We've been hearing a lot about giant plumes of oil deep underwater. Now, BP denies they exist. Others, including lawmakers, say they do. Tom Foreman, we asked him to look into reports. Tom joins us now -- Tom.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Hey, Anderson.
For weeks we've talked about leak down here and the oil slick up here. But right now, however, marine scientists are sounding alarm about the middle, saying they believe that numerous, huge, invisible oil clouds or plumes are gathering in this area, threatening as much or more damage than all of the oil that we've already seen at the top, working its way toward the coast.
This is how they think that's happening. Oil and natural gas, they say, are coming out. They're being hit by BP with these chemical dispersants and breaking into billions of tiny little droplets. In theory, all of those droplets should just wash away in the currents. But researchers at places like Temple University and southern Florida say that's not happening. There's so much oil and so much dispersant it's moving around, being dispersed but not disappearing, Anderson.
COOPER: The bottom line, are they there or not? I mean, if the oil droplets are so fine you can't see them, how do these researchers say that they're there and how big do they say these plumes are?
FOREMAN: Well, right now, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NOAA, has a boat working the Gulf, along with researchers from the Moth Ray Bay (ph) Research Center there.
And they're sending robots like this one down into the water with these little collection chambers on board. Just like this. They go down and take deep gulps of the water at different depths so they can study the chemical makeup. That's how they will validate or refute the observations of these scientists who first reported this phenomena of these big toxic invisible clouds underwater.
And remember, BP's CEO says he does not think these plumes even exist. At the moment, Professor Eric Portis (ph) at Temple University told me no one knows how many of these plumes there are or where they're located, although he and many others believe some may be up to 10 to 20 miles long and 5 or six miles wide and they're moving around out there, Anderson.
COOPER: So what's the -- we know about the dangers of -- you know, from oil that reaches the shore. That's pretty obvious. What's the danger here?
FOREMAN: Well, the danger here, look at this. These are all markings of deep-water coral reefs, some of which was recently mapped by a big NOAA expedition. These reefs -- this is one right here -- have really been quite important, because what they have on them is many species that we really have found nowhere else. I'll move this down and let you see this a little bit better. Just sort of jump ahead.
There are crabs down here and little eels down here and different types of coral and different types of fish and different tiny, tiny critters, many of which we've never even seen before. This particular reef is only 20 miles from the leak itself. Biologists tell me that these underwater oil clouds could simply choke off all the oxygen here, killing everything. And that, in turn, like we've heard so many times, Anderson, could hurt the entire Gulf food chain.
Anderson, you're right. There's a big debate about these plumes, these toxic clouds under the water, as to whether or not they really exist. These scientists are increasingly saying, yes, they exist. You can't see them with your eye, but when you measure the chemicals, they're there, and they hold a very genuine threat -- Anderson.
COOPER: Tom, do we have a timeline on when NOAA may come up with their assessment? FOREMAN: NOAA is being -- NOAA is being very careful about this, Anderson. We don't have a timeline.
FOREMAN: Because what they're saying is, look, we're out here to gather data, to look at what we see in the water column, see if it matches up to what the scientists are saying or to what BP is saying, or somewhere in between. That could take some time, because as you can tell from me now (ph), there's a lot of water out there. When these things are moving around in deep currents -- they're not the same as the top currents...
FOREMAN: ... it can be hard to keep track of where they are.
COOPER: And I don't want to sound like I'm bashing NOAA. Because there's a lot of good people, you know, working very hard to try to help in all these rounds and BP, as well. But NOAA went along for weeks with that 5,000 barrel-a-day figure about the oil. In fact, they're the ones who came up with it, even though independent scientists were saying, actually, it's much bigger than that. And it took them three to four weeks to decide to actually do separate testing. And lo and behold, they now say it's 12 to 19,000 barrels a day. So we'll wait from NOAA to see what they end up saying from their experiments.
BP insists, I should point out again, no underwater oil plumes in the Gulf. That's a statement Congressman Edward Markey is not buying. He's a Democrat from Massachusetts. He chairs the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming. He says scientific evidence proves the plumes exist. He also says BP committed a crime and believes more heads should roll in Washington. I spoke to Congressman Markey earlier.
COOPER: Congressman, over the weekend, Tony Hayward said that BP had not found any evidence of underwater plumes. On Monday, you sent a letter to them asking for documents to back up those claims. Did you get any response?
REP. EDWARD MARKEY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: I have not received any response yet. I gave them until Friday of this week to provide documentation that there are no plumes. I actually don't think they have that evidence. I think BP really stands for "blind to plumes."
The University of South Florida, the University of Southern Mississippi, they've already been out there as independent scientists, documenting the existence of these plumes. And I await whatever evidence BP may have that they don't exist. I think that they're more interested, actually, in limiting their liability than in providing for greater livability for the people who live in the Gulf. COOPER: I mean, I guess on Tuesday, BP said, well, look, they needed to, you know, see more proof that the plumes existed, which I guess is sort of a back pedal from what Tony Hayward said.
What -- I mean, in your dealings with them, what has been their pattern? Do you find them to be, I mean, honest in your dealings with you?
MARKEY: First, they said, you know, the rig could not sink. It did. Then they certified that they could handle a spill the size of an Exxon Valdez every single day. They couldn't.
Then they said that it was only 1,000 barrels per day that was spilling into the Gulf when they already had an internal document in the first week that it was 1,000 to 14,000 barrels per day, but they hid that from the public.
So I think that BP has lost its credibility, and if they make any further assertions, they should have to provide the documentation before the public, especially the public that could be negatively impacted by a decision not to proceed to protect against a plume, a toxic chemical of -- cocktail.
COOPER: Why do you think they seem to resist being transparent in their operations? I mean, from not wanting to release the videotape, which basically the American public only first saw because of your efforts and others on Capitol Hill, the live camera which we didn't even know they had for weeks and weeks and weeks.
To, you know, not -- not really wanting to look into how big -- how much oil was actually pouring out. To even now, I mean, you would think they could have a camera in -- you know, to see what the scientists are doing every single day, to see the technicians working on this thing, to get people rallying behind those technicians who are probably working behind the clock incredibly hard. But why do they seem to resist being open with the American public?
MARKEY: I think initially they were actually hoping that they could shut off this leak before people were down there determining how large it was, because their liability is tied to how many barrels of oil per day go into the Gulf. They get fined for a barrel of oil per day. If it's 1,000 barrels of oil, it might only be $100 million. If it's 15 or 20 million barrels a day, it's a going to turn into billions of dollars.
And I think their lawyers just told them, "Try limit our liability. Don't really allow for there to be transparency so that it can be clear what is happening." And ultimately, that's why I insisted that they put the spill cam up, so that independent scientists could begin to make an assessment of how big this problem is.
And I'll tell you one good reason why. The larger the amount of oil coming out is the more chemical dispersants that have to be shot into it, which potentially is causing larger and larger chemical plumes under the surface of the ocean that are floating throughout the Gulf of Mexico.
COOPER: Congressman Ed Markey, I appreciate your time. Thank you.
MARKEY: Thank you.
COOPER: Again, we invite BP any time to come on this program to talk. We'd love to just ask them very basic questions, not out to -- not on a witch-hunt, just like to have their side of the story, their version of what's going on. Doesn't seem to make any sense why they wouldn't do that.
A mile under sea. Will the cut-and-cap maneuver stop the leak? If not, what happens next. Coming up, I'll talk to Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Gary Tuchman, David Mattingly, reporters who have been covering the story a long time when 360 continues.
COOPER: Thirty-seven percent of the Gulf is now closed for fishing. Oil is now threatening Florida. Wanted to bring back Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Gary Tuchman, David Mattingly.
David, I mean, you've been on this. What's the latest on the underwater operation that's going on as we show up some of these live pictures, which frankly, are kind of hard to understand what's going on? So what's happening?
DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I wish I had better news. But right now, BP is abandoning its plan to have a smooth cut across that pipe. And that's bad news. Because earlier, the saw they were using, that diamond-tipped saw, got stuck. They had to wrench it free, and they took it up to the surface. They're not using it again.
Now they're going to use a different device. It's going to be a rougher cut, which means they're not going to have a good seal on there like they had hoped. So that means until August when they had that other relief well drilled, until August, we're going to be seeing a lot more oil leaking into the Gulf of Mexico.
COOPER: So wait. So they're -- they're still going to try, though, with this cap procedure, right? I mean, they have to modify the cap.
MATTINGLY: They seem to have no doubt that they're going to be able to cut this and get the cap on. They're just not going to be able to cut it as smoothly as they like. They're not going to be able to put the cap on with the seal that they wanted. So now, they're going to be able to capture some of the oil, maybe most of it, but not as much as they could have if they had a smooth cut.
COOPER: Do we know a timeline of when they think that operation will happen and we will know whether or not it's successful in terms of sucking up that oil? MATTINGLY: Once they have that pipe sheared, and according to video we've been looking at, we're not really sure that they've done that yet. Once that pipe is sheered off, there's going to be a gusher down there, going to be 20 percent more oil coming out. They're going to try and get that cap as quick as they can.
COOPER: Are they going to be any more transparent about what's going on? I understand now they may have press conferences twice a day, in the morning and the evening. Have you heard this?
MATTINGLY: The latest I'm hearing is that BP's going to put out twice daily reports, once in the morning, once in the afternoon on their progress. And Thad Allen is going to come out in the morning tomorrow to tell us what's going on, as well.
COOPER: Well, I don't understand, again, I go back to the mining disasters. When you have small mining companies, they come out with press conferences every couple of hours to update what's happening on efforts to rescue miners. You've got some operation the entire world is watching. You'd think there'd be out, putting out people every couple of hours but apparently, not in this case.
For the workers who are on shore, I mean, you've seen them out in the hot sun. It's incredibly difficult work. What is it like?
TUCHMAN: I mean, it's physically demanding. It's painful in some ways. They're bending down. They're cleaning the grass.
COOPER: They're literally cleaning...
TUCHMAN: They're literally -- they pick up, like, blades of grass and then take chamois towels and wipe them and then pick up more grass and wipe them. And the whole idea is keep the oil from spreading on the grass. But as long as the oil continues to be gushing, it's going to spread on the grass.
But what's worse than physical aspect of it is the emotional aspect of it. And these are people who relied on the Gulf of Mexico for their livings. They no longer have those livings. They have to do this to make money.
And when we ask to talk to them, they say, "We'd like to talk to you, but we're afraid we'll lose their jobs if we talk to you." It's hard to...
COOPER: What do they make an hour? Do you know?
TUCHMAN: Well, everyone makes a little different amount of money, but normally, about $12 an hour is the average amount of money that they make.
COOPER: Sanjay, in terms of the health impact that you've been looking at, any sense of how long it lasts or how quickly it shows up.
SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, the people who are exposed the greatest are the ones who are most at risk. That just makes sense. People who, you know, work eight hours a day and they get a significant amount of time away from the exposure are going to do best.
The problem is a lot of people are out there for prolonged periods of time. It can show up pretty quickly. We've already had somebody hospitalized. Someone was medevacked to the hospital for pretty significant symptoms. We confirmed today that, in fact, he did get diagnosed with chemical poisoning.
What is interesting is that you had some examples from the past, Valdez, for example. People complaining 10, 14, even 16 years later of some of those same symptoms. They think the nausea, the vomiting, the headaches and the respiratory problems will go away. A lot of times it didn't for some of those people up there.
COOPER: A caution -- cautionary tale. Sanjay, I appreciate it. Gary, as well. David Mattingly, as well.
Another day here. We have a lot more coming up in the next hour. Our coverage continues all week on "AMERICAN MORNING," as well. Tomorrow morning, hope you stay with CNN for this, we have deployed reporters all over this region. More from the Gulf right after this.