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Oil Disaster Day 49; Interview With Israeli Ambassador to the United States

Aired June 7, 2010 - 18:00   ET



Happening now: an exclusive look at BP's crisis command center. CNN is the only television network to go inside the dark, tense room where experts direct the delicate underwater operations in the Gulf.

Also, more oil is being collected every day, but what is BP doing with all of it? It turns out, it could wind up in your gas tank.

Plus, Iran now says one of its ships will escort the next humanitarian flotilla to Gaza. We will get reaction from Israel's ambassador to the United States. He's joining us this hour.

We want to welcome our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Some critical new developments on day 49 of the Gulf oil disaster, among them, BP's cap of the leaking pipe is now collecting more than 11,000 barrels of oil each day. And the company says it's planning to move another ship to the site to help take on all that crude. This one holds up to 20,000 barrels.

Also, the Associated Press is reporting that BP will replace the current cap next month with a larger one with a better fit. And the U.S. federal government is accepting an offer from Canada to provide almost 10,000 feet of boom to help contain the spill.

Meanwhile, the painstaking work underwater continues, all of it now directed from a control room hundreds of miles away from that -- hundreds of miles away that functions as BP's sort of brain.

CNN's Brian Todd is the only television reporter to get access. He's taking us inside -- Brian.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, BP's Houston headquarters right behind me is normally used as a command center for hurricanes, where officials gather to shut down rigs. But it's converted -- been converted, rather, to a 24/7 crisis center for this oil spill.

We got access to it only for about 30 minutes, so we had to make the most out of it. From the moment we meet, BP's senior vice president, Kent Wells, the clock is ticking.

TODD (on camera): Good to meet you. Thanks for having us.

(voice-over): First stop is the briefing room, the communications hub.

KENT WELLS, SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT, BP: This is all about who is working on it right now. And this gets updated every 12 hours, because we have got different people working morning and night, right? So that's about the people.

Then we have got about resources. What about ships? What about planes? Do we have everything we need to make it happen? Then there's the situation, so here -- and this -- this kind of shows, where's the oil offshore? Here's the well we're talking about.

TODD (on camera): How recent is this map?

WELLS: Updated every day, this morning, 08:00.

TODD (voice-over): Technical and environmental specialists each wear different color vests. I get a quick question to Jeff Hohle.

(on camera): You're the incident commander right now. What's your biggest crisis at this very moment?

JEFF HOHLE, INCIDENT COMMANDER: Well, this whole response in totality is the crisis we're managing. Today, some of the big priorities are actually the flow-back, which you will see some information about that on the enterprise, making sure we're kind of integrated in that activity.

TODD: This may be the most critical room of all, the ROV operations center. Kent Wells tells us that everything that is planned in these other rooms is executed by the ROVs in here, very sensitive. We can't talk too much. We can't interfere too much, but we're going to head in.

WELLS: It actually weighs 10,000 pounds. It's about 10 feet long, seven feet high, six feet wide, and it's got manipulator arms. We have actually got 16 out there.

TODD: Right.

WELLS: I think you heard Neil say most we sort of had down there is 10, 12 at any one time.

TODD (voice-over): Two engineers in the front row are talking to ROV pilots on surface vessels.

WELLS: We put out very specific procedures that are all proved through the MMS, all the different agencies. And then it comes in here for execution. He will go through step by step, tell the lead. The lead will tell the pilot, and then the pilot executes. We will have a pilot that -- where it flies, and then we have someone operate the manipulators.

TODD: When we're inside this room, they're working on lowering a basket with an electronic arm.

WELLS: We're injecting dispersant. We disperse it immediately, and it's far more effective to use dispersant when you get it right then. You use a lot less dispersant and get better impact. But that's why you get that billowing. We have actually got two wands that the ROVs are holding. And they're sticking it right into the bottom to try to get it to disperse it immediately.

TODD: The subsea containment room is clearly the busiest.

(on camera): Who are these four gentlemen, and what's their field of expertise?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, these guys are our subsea engineers, and they're working on the Q4000 alternatives right now. And this is all about getting the layout made and the connection point, so we actually use this Q4000 vessel to collect, ultimately, control and burn crude and gas that's coming off.

TODD: So the Q4000 is used for the surface burning, essentially?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It will be in the future.

TODD (voice-over): The successes of these operations, like the insertion tool, and the biggest failures all planned in this room.

(on camera): Since the explosion, what was the worst moment? What was the most frustrating moment? Was it the top kill failing? Was it the first containment dome not working?

WELLS: Yes. I think, clearly, when we think about that, the top kill, one of the things we always need to remember is, as leaders of these, when times are the toughest, that's when you need to be the strongest.

So, the top kill was a disappointment. But, at that point, it was about, how do we move forward with the next plan that we have already got? So it was very much about, OK, we're now into subsea containment, we're now into relief wells. And we quickly moved on to that.

In here is the sim-ops room. They call this the air traffic control of this operation on the seas. You can see that in the big circle on the top, that's where the wellhead is leaking, and all the vessels there are on top of it. John Scherer (ph), my photojournalist, is going to shift over and show you that -- that screen there.

Down on the lower right are the relief wells that are being drilled. And this is a key operation to make sure that the ships essentially don't run into each other and that nothing calamitous happens on the surface.

(voice-over): I asked the coordinator of this operation, Neil Cramond, how dangerous this is. NEIL CRAMOND, SIM-OPS COORDINATOR: I don't think I would use the term dangerous. I think it's -- again, it's taken a lot of careful planning and a lot of careful coordination. Having that many vessels all doing different construction or sort of different support activities in such a small, small area is not normal.

TODD: Kent wells is optimistic that about 11,000 barrels a day are being fund through the containment cap.

(on camera): That's still only about half of what's coming out, though, right?

WELLS: Right. I know we're all focused on that, on what the flow rate is. We're focused on, let's capture everything we can.


TODD: Now, when I asked Kent Wells how much of this he thinks they can capture, he wouldn't project. Another BP official says they think they might be able to capture as much as 90 percent of this oil and funnel it to the surface to the waiting tankers, but that will depend on how well these caps work. Kent Wells told me right now they're designing their tenth LMRP cap -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Brian Todd with some exclusive access there -- Brian, thank you.

The widows of two men killed in the rig explosion are urging Congress to repeal a law that limits how much money they can get from BP. A group of lawmakers traveled to Louisiana today and heard their emotional testimony at a House field hearing earlier in the day.

CNN's Lisa Sylvester got some details for us.

Walk us through what happened, Lisa.

LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, Natalie Roshto and Courtney Kemp are the two widows. They both lost their husbands during the accident which claimed the lives of 11 men.

And they said, on the day of the explosion, they both talked to their husbands separately, who described several problems, including a very troubling sign of a kick, or, in other words, a surge in gas pressure. BP at the time was in the process of shutting down the well. And Courtney Kemp said her husband told her that he felt under pressure, that he had to get the job done, that they wanted to move quickly on to a new well, and that they were behind schedule and in a crunch.

And she believes BP, in its haste, cut corners, even when there were signs of major trouble. Now Kemp is raising her two young daughters by herself.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: BP will never understand the pain that we feel. And the only way that big companies like that will feel the pain is when it comes out of their pocket, because that's basically how we have felt is that all they're worried about. And until they're hurt bad enough, they will never understand what we are going through.


SYLVESTER: You know, and this is one of those things that it's an open question right now as to how much compensation they can receive. Right now, under the Death on the High Seas Act, it's limited to actual financial losses, the loss, for instance, of their husbands' future wages, but that doesn't include any compensation for emotional pain or suffering.

And this is a law that dates back 90 years, and several lawmakers during the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee hearing today said it's time to have it repealed.


REP. EDWARD MARKEY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Well, the one way that we can hurt BP is to make sure that BP stands for bills paid, that the money for families, the money to clean up the Gulf comes out of their pocket, and that we repeal the Death on the High Seas Act.



SYLVESTER: And, now, we reached out to BP to get a statement to ask them about all of this, and to respond to the allegations that we heard that they put money and profits ahead of safety. And, Wolf, they gave us a very short statement, simply saying, "BP's priority is always safety" -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Lisa, thanks very much -- Lisa Sylvester with that emotional story for us. We're watching it.

Jack Cafferty is coming up next with "The Cafferty File."

Then, more oil is being salvaged from that leaking well every day, but where is it going? We're going to find out.

And what about those underwater oil plumes we're hearing so much about right now? What kind of threat do they really pose to sea life? We will ask an expert.

And the Israeli ambassador to the United States is joining us this hour. What will his country do if an Iranian ship escorts a new humanitarian flotilla to Gaza? I will ask him.

Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: Jack Cafferty is here with "The Cafferty File" -- Jack. JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: So you remember that swine flu deal a while back, fears of a global pandemic, millions of death, shortages of vaccines, on and on and on? What we found up with, fortunately, didn't even approach that.

There were far fewer deaths than expected, more than 70 million unused doses of the newly created H1N1 vaccine just here in the United States. And now there's this. There are two reports in Europe that say the World Health Organization vastly exaggerated the swine flu threat, as did the news media, I might add.

They say decisions were poorly explained and not transparent enough, and that's why public trust in the WHO is plummeting, their word. These reports suggest the U.N.'s health agencies did not disclose possible ties to the pharmaceutical industry when recommending how countries should respond.

They say the WHO caused widespread unnecessary fear and caused countries to waste millions of dollars, all the while -- and here's the kicker -- the agency was getting advice from experts who were on the payroll of the pharmaceutical companies that manufactured the swine flu vaccine.


The WHO says claims that this was a fake pandemic are irresponsible, and they insist the organization was never improperly influenced by the pharmaceutical industry.


Other experts are defending the health organization as well, saying they made the best decisions they could under the circumstances. Nevertheless, in light of the charges, the WHO has launched two separate investigations.

Here's our question.

What if influence from the pharmaceutical companies led the World Health Organization to exaggerate the swine flu threat? Go to Post a comment on my blog.

If it happened, I suppose, Wolf, it can be characterized as creating a market for that vaccine, couldn't it?

BLITZER: Some people probably would characterize it like that, Jack. Fortunately, it did not turn out to be as bad as we feared.


BLITZER: Thank you, Jack.

Three people are now confirmed dead in a massive natural gas explosion at Fort Worth, Texas, a gas so powerful, people reported hearing it miles away, some as far as eight miles away.

Chester Nolen is the city manager in nearby Cleburne, Texas. He's joining us on the phone.

Mr. Cleburne (sic), thanks very much. Tell us what happened.

CHESTER NOLEN, CITY MANAGER, CLEBURNE, TEXAS: Well, there was an electric transmission line that was being maintained. A crew was on the scene. And, apparently, either by use of an excavator or auger drilling holes managed to strike the line and cause the explosion.

BLITZER: Mr. Nolen, excuse me for calling you Mr. Cleburne.


BLITZER: You're from Cleburne.

But tell us exactly -- three people, you know, are dead; there are others missing right now?

NOLEN: Well, that was from an early report. We are still trying to confirm the three fatalities.

Early on, the fire chief from Cleburne, we had several crews on the scene, and a couple of ambulances at the scene. The -- this is a rural area. It's approximately eight miles of Cleburne. The whole site is probably about 40, 45 miles southwest of Fort Worth, to give you a perspective on it.

We were on the scene early on, and those were reports that we had. We're still unable to confirm whether or not there were any fatalities. We do know there were six injuries. And they are being treated at a local hospital, presumably burns.

But the three fatalities, I have some reports that are still saying we have three fatalities, and I have some others that are saying there are no fatalities. The fire has only been controlled within the last 15 minutes, and the folks are able to get into the scene. We were being kept back probably 1,000 to 1,500 feet from the scene just due to the intensity of the fire.

It was a 36-inch gas line, and the rupture, we estimate that it had between 900 and 1,000 pounds pressure on it. The line was owned by Enterprise Products out of Houston. And they have since managed to get the valves shut off that control that segment of the line, so there should be better information coming out of the -- out of the scene here momentarily.

BLITZER: All right, we will stay in close touch with you, Mr. Nolen.

He's the city manager of nearby Cleburne, Texas. Let's hope there are no fatalities indeed.

Thank you very much.

Florida is bracing for more oil from the massive BP spill.

CNN's Jim Acosta is joining us now not from Louisiana, but from Destin, Florida, where there is fear this could get worse.

But what -- you have been there now for a while, Jim. Walk us through what you're seeing, what you're hearing.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, as you know, over the weekend, some oil and some tar balls started washing ashore in the Pensacola area, and that got residents, tourists, business people very worried that wave after wave of oil was going to start crashing ashore here in the Florida Panhandle this week.

And that so far has not materialized, and we can say that we confirmed that to a certain extent by going out on a boat today. We went out on a boat with a couple of pretty experienced local businessmen, went about five miles out, 30 miles down from Destin to Pensacola, Florida.

And all we really saw during that time today, Wolf, was maybe a light sheen at one point a couple miles off the coast of Navarre Beach, which is pretty close to Pensacola. That seems to jibe with what folks are saying in Escambia County, the county where Pensacola is.

They're having a press conference this afternoon, essentially telling the public that they believe those beaches are safe now to swim in, they're safe to play in after those tar balls and that oil washed ashore over the weekend in Pensacola.

In the meantime, NOAA is also relaxing some of its restrictions, opening up some federal water to fishing. So, that is at least some indication that, for the time being, the oil threat to this coast is not as severe as was anticipated over the weekend, which is at least some temporary good news for the folks here -- Wolf.

BLITZER: In Destin.

All right, we're going to check in with our John King -- he's in Pensacola -- as well.

Thanks very much, Jim Acosta.

The Gulf oil disaster changing by the day. We are going to ask -- we will also ask an expert about those so-called plumes, the dangers posed by containment and the environmental impact.

But, up next, an especially deadly day for NATO and U.S. troops in Afghanistan.


BLITZER: In Afghanistan, 10 NATO troops are dead after an eruption of violence, seven of those troops Americans.

Our senior international correspondent, Nic Robertson, is in Kabul.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, of those 10 NATO troops killed in Afghanistan today, seven of them were U.S. service members, five of them killed in a single IED roadside bomb attack in the east of Afghanistan, three other service members killed in two separate roadside bomb attacks, and two service members killed in separate small-arms fire or gun battle attacks.

We also understand from the U.S. Embassy here an American citizen killed in the Kandahar police station during a complex suicide attack there. A suicide bomber driving a car full of explosives drove up to the wall of the police station, detonated the explosives, breaching the wall, making a hole in it. The other two suicide bombers ran inside, engaged in a gun battle before detonating their explosives.

So, already, this month of June, the death toll for NATO forces here is above what we have seen typical for so far this year, more than 20 soldiers killed thus far in June, and that is above the average so far this year, Wolf.


BLITZER: Nic Robertson, another sad day in Afghanistan. We're watching this story closely. Thank you.

The threat facing Florida, it is more than tourism in danger. Our own John King is standing by live. He's in Pensacola.

And will an Iranian ship headed toward Gaza prompt another Israeli commando raid? Is an Iranian ship heading toward Gaza right now? I will ask Israel's ambassador to the United States. He's here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Plus, as the new iPhone debuts, Apple boss Steve Jobs falls victim to a Wi-Fi failure.



ADMIRAL THAD ALLEN, U.S. COAST GUARD COMMANDANT: We're no longer dealing with a large, monolithic spill. We're dealing with an aggregation of hundreds of thousands of patches of oil that are going a lot of different directions. And we've had to adapt, and we need to adapt to be able to meet that threat.


BLITZER: Thad Allen, the incident commander, the man on the scene, the point man, explaining that there are a lot of threats out there.

Let's talk about it with an expert.

Ed Overton is a professor at Louisiana State University.

Mr. Overton, thanks very much for coming in. When he says we're not dealing with a monolithic spill anymore, but there are literally hundreds of thousands of patches of oil out there, I'm a little confused. What does that mean?

EDWARD OVERTON, LOUISIANA STATE UNIVERSITY: Well, this oil, when it comes to the surface, it starts spreading out in globs. And, so, you have got lost of fairly thick globs, and then some of those thick globs break into smaller globs, and so there is not one big black tide out there.

There's this -- this -- a bunch of floating oil patches, if you will. Some of them are fairly thick. Some of them are not. So, there's a lot of oil on the surface, but there's a lot of empty space between the globs of oil that are on the surface.

BLITZER: And we're told now by some experts that there are these huge plumes under the water's surface going on for maybe, maybe miles and miles and miles. Explain potentially what that means to sea life.

OVERTON: Well, the oil, of course, is entering the environment from a mile deep.

So, when the oil comes in the environment, they are adding dispersants and there's some natural dispersion. And when oil is dispersed at depth, the oil breaks into really, really tiny droplets, less than a diameter of a human hair.

These droplets start moving away from the wellhead down at depth. So, there are the plumes. Some of the oil comes straight up, and some of the oil hangs down at depth for -- for long distances. The concentration of this oil, though, is very low, down in the part per million, part per billion range.

So, there are plumes of oil, subsurface, but there are no lakes of oil. There's plumes of oil. And this oil, again, is at low concentrations. Exactly what effect it has on the marine biology is still to be determined. We know the oil is down there.

Oil has two functions. It can have a toxic effect, and it can have a oxygen-reducing effect. So, if the concentrations are in the part per billion, it's not going to have a big effect on the oxygen reduction, but it could have an effect on the toxicology of animals that swim in it. We really just don't know at this stage.

BLITZER: How do you deal with it? How do you get rid of those plumes?

OVERTON: Well, you don't. You let Mother Nature get rid of them. The oil was slowly degraded. There's plenty of oxygen down at this depth part per billion level, degradation. So, over time, as though plumes move out, they will start to get lower and lower concentrations and the bacteria that are down there will use this as a carbon source, as a food source, and degrade the oil and turn into biomass.

BLITZER: We were told before the -- that little cap, that containment cap was put over the pipe that maybe 12 to 19,000 barrels a day were going. Once they severed off the top, it would increase by 20 percent, so maybe as much as 23,000 barrels a day. Right now, about 11,000 are being contained, sent to that tankership on the water's surface. It could go up to 20,000 a day. It sounds like things -- and I don't want to be overly hopeful or optimistic. It sounds like things potentially are moving in the right direction.

OVERTON: Well, I absolutely think they're moving in the right direction, particularly, if they can up the capacity of the efficiency of the cap to get 90 percent of the oil. Any reduction is wonderful. Any reduction is wonderful. So, 50 percent is a step in the right direction, but remember, that all of these are a stopgap until the relief wells can be drilled, and we're looking at a couple months or longer before the ultimate solution. So, any effort to shut off the oil is in -- a step in the right direction, because ultimately, the oil that is not capped that gets on the surface is going to have some impact along the coastline.

BLITZER: We're going to watch it very, very closely with you, and other experts. Ed Overton, thanks very much for joining us.

OVERTON: Thank you.

BLITZER: We'll have much more on the oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico coming up.

Also, Israel is strongly criticized for an attack on a humanitarian flotilla. Now, Iran is threatening to send an escort for another flotilla towards Gaza. Would Israel back down if Iran follows through or would Israel go after an Iranian ship? I'll go straight to Israel's ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren. He's here in the SITUATION ROOM. We'll get the answer.


BLITZER: It has all the elements of an international showdown. Iran now says its Red Crescent Society will try to break Israel's blockade of Gaza with a shipment of humanitarian relief. If it does, Israel will have to make a major decision.


And joining us now, Israel's ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren. Mr. Ambassador, thanks very much for coming in.


BLITZER: Iran says it's going to send some ships from the Iranian Red Crescent to Gaza to participate in this effort to break Israel's blockade. If they do that, will you send Israeli commandos to stop those Iranian Red Crescent ships?

OREN: Israel will take any step it needs to take to defend itself. The naval blockade is in place to prevent massive amounts of rockets and other missions from reaching Hamas and Gaza. Any ship that comes tried to break that blockade we're going to stop. If they come with humanitarian relief, we'll take the humanitarian relief and we'll give it to the people of Gaza, but if they come and try to block the blockade, this, we'll have to defend ourselves.

BLITZER: Do you have independent confirmation that Iran is about to do this?

OREN: No, only the declarations just you heard.

BLITZER: Do you take that seriously?

OREN: Can't estimate it right now. Iran makes a lot of declarations and doesn't follow through the great number of them.

BLITZER: Does Iran have the ability to get its ships into the Mediterranean?

OREN: Oh, it would have to go around outside of the -- outside of the --

BLITZER: Can they go through the Suez Canal?

OREN: I don't know if the Egyptians would let them. These are complex, diplomatic questions or it can swing around and go halfway around the world. I think the issue here is the need for Israel to defend itself, and Egypt has the exact same policy. Egypt is afraid of Hamas. The Palestinian authority knows that if Hamas gets rockets, it's the end of the peace process. It's the end of Palestinian authority. Many countries are invested in this blockade. It's not just Israel.

BLITZER: A lot of people understand that and appreciate it. What they don't understand, there are some of the lists of prohibited items that Israel won't allow into Gaza. I'll give you an example. The economist reported things like ginger, nutmeg, canned fridge, dried fruit, fresh meats, seeds, and nuts and they go on, musical instruments, newspapers, wood for construction. Is that true that Israel won't allow these kinds of materials into Gaza?

OREN: The important thing here is that Gaza is getting all these materials through other means, through tunnels under the Egyptian border. We assure that there is no shortage of food or medicine in Gaza. We have 100 trucks a day, at least, going over our border, carrying food and medicine. There's no shortage of either of these things.

BLITZER: But are these things prohibited from going through?

OREN: You know, Wolf, I don't have a list in front of me. I hear also things from Hamas and Gaza, from the free Gaza movement. The fact of the matter is our commitment is to assuring this food and humanitarian aid, you know -- Gaza strip is a hostile entity to us, and I don't see where the United States during World War II felt a great need to supply, you know, chocolate to the German people, either. BLITZER: What do you think of this European Union proposal that they would take over inspecting these ships going into Gaza. They would make sure there's no security threat to Israel. No weapons or missiles or rockets or missions (ph) or anything like that. They would do the job, and Israel would no longer have to deal with these ships coming, and the EU would check the ships?

OREN: Wolf, we're open to suggestions that would help facilitate the blockade better. We had some bad experience with international supervision of rocket shipments to Hezbollah and Lebanon.

BLITZER: United Nations operation, but this would be an EU operation. Are you more comfortable with the EU taking charge?

OREN: Again, we'll be open to suggestions. Our past experience has been that in Lebanon in 2006, Hezbollah had 12,000 rockets. Now, it has 42,000 rockets. There were European observers along the Gaza border when Gaza border crossings were open. Hamas shot at them, and the Europeans ran away. Keep in mind, this is Hamas that fired 10,000 rockets into the state of Israel. It's the Hamas that has sworn to destroy the state of Israel.

BLITZER: What I hear you saying you're more open to EU inspection of ships than you would be in the United Nations.

OREN: All I can say is we are open to suggestions. Our experience in the past has not been particularly so list to us (ph).

BLITZER: Israel is going to have its own independent investigation of what happened with the flotilla the other day. Will you allow international observers to participate in your investigation?

OREN: The investigation will be an Israeli investigation. Israel is a democracy. It has the right and the duty to investigation itself, just as the United States investigates incidents that happened with American forces in Afghanistan and Iraq. But the Israeli government is considering some type of international component in that investigation.

BLITZER: You rejected a United Nations investigation. You won't cooperate with the United Nations as far as an investigation of the flotilla?

OREN: We're not going to have an international panel of journalists sitting in judgment on Israel's action that cannot possibly be a balanced panel. And, again, as a democracy, it's part of our sovereign right and duty to investigate ourselves.


BLITZER: So, how bad are relations between the Obama administration and the Netanyahu government in Jerusalem. Tomorrow, right here in the SITUATION ROOM, we'll have part two of my interview with the Israeli ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren. Stand by for that. More oil is being collected every day, but what is BP doing with all of that oil? Turns out it could wind up in your gas tank. We have new information.

And new iPhone's problem plagued debut. Even Apple boss, Steve Jobs, couldn't get a connection.


BLITZER: Get back to our top story. The oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. Right now, one sign of progress in this disaster is raising some new questions. BP is collecting more than 11,000 barrels of leaking crude a day, but what's the company going to do with all of that oil? Mary Snow has been investigating. Let's go to Mary. She is going to tell us. Mary, what are you finding out?

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Bottom line, Wolf, is that much of that oil could wind up in your gas tank. So, the plan for much of that oil that's being recovered through the containment cap is to eventually be taken to a refinery and processed and that means BP could make money from it. What could it look like? It's impossible to say how much oil will be collected, but here's a rough scenario. Admiral Thad Allen said earlier today, 11,000 barrels of oil were collected in the last 24 hours. You figure the price of crude is about $70 a barrel, and if you assume that this containment process is used for the next 60 days, that adds up to about $46 million.

Now, that's a rough look. There are a lot of unknowns such as the quality of the oil and you have to factor in the cost to reprocess it. At a White House briefing earlier today, Admiral Allen said BP expects to move in another crap which could mean 20,000 barrels of oil a day will be recovered. He said it's being done for safety and containment reasons, but he was asked about what should be done with that oil. Take a listen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Should they have to forfeiture that oil?


ROBERT GIBBS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Let's be clear. They are the responsible party. They are going to bear the cost for exactly what the admiral is describing. I think those costs are likely to greatly exceed what the oil that is recouped is sold for on the market. I -- they're in for on response and recovery. There will be penalties that will be involved in this in the many billions of dollars.


SNOW: Now, there's been one lawmaker eyeing this potential money, Democratic Congressman Nick Rahall, the chairman of the Committee of Natural Resources. He's asking the interior department to ensure BP pays royalties from the sale of any collected oil -- Wolf. BLITZER: The oil from the containment as we go forward right now, Mary, what do we expect eventually that's going to go up to maybe as much as 20,000 barrels a day?

SNOW: That's true. And that's what Admiral Allen said earlier today. And, you know, he also talked about recovering some of the oil from the surface. Now, the big difference that the oil coming from the containment cap is coming from the well. But, we also spoke to the head of the petroleum geoscience programs at the University of Houston. He says reusing oil recovered from the surface isn't out of the question. Take a listen.


DON VAN NIEUWENHUISE, UNIVERSITY OF HOUSTON: That will be a little bit more difficult for them to produce and turn into product, but they still will be able to turn some of that into product if they collect enough of it.


SNOW: And Admiral Allen is also saying that almost all of the recovered oil can be recycled in one way or another, unless it's contaminated sand or debris -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Mary, thanks very much. Mary Snow working that story for us.

We got some new video in. It was a pretty extraordinary tour earlier in the day. Watch this. The governor of Louisiana, Bobby Jindal, the president of the Plaquemines Parish, Billy Nungesser, and the managing director of BP, Robert Dudley. They were taking this tour. There's Dudley right in their front. He walked out. You probably saw his foot got stuck in the oil there. BP getting a lot of criticism, obviously, for what has happened.

But on this day, there was some praise, not only from Bobby Jindal but also for Billy Nungesser, because the BP managing director, Mr. Dudley, promised hundreds of millions of dollars to deal with the clean-up. There you can see his foot stuck in some oil right there. Interesting photo that's just coming into the SITUATION ROOM. We'll have much more on the oil spill coming up later.

Also, it's touted as the next generation of iPhone. Apple rolled out its iPhone 4 today. We're going to show you what nifty new things it can do, and why its debut did not go as smoothly as planned.

And later, how to clean a pelican. We'll explain right here in the SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: There were a couple of cringe-worthy moments today as the Apple CEO, Steve Jobs, unveiled the new iPhone. Lisa Sylvester has been looking at that. Lisa, all right, walk us through this one. LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, I think Steve Jobs has had better days. He had a little trouble negotiating an overloaded Wi-Fi network during his new iPhone demo today. Let's listen in.


STEVE JOBS, APPLE, INC. CEO: I'm going to go to some websites. I'm going to go to "The New York Times" today, and let's just compare these websites. Our networks in here are always unpredictable. So, I have no idea what we're going to find. They are slow today. You know, you could help me out if you're on Wi-Fi, if you could just get off.


JOBS: I'd appreciate it. We're having a little problem here. I don't know what's wrong with our networks. We're going to switch over to some backups here. I have a feeling we might have the same problem. Well, geez, I don't like this. All right. Let's go back to primaries. I'm afraid I have a problem, and I'm not going to be able to show you much here today. I can show you some pictures. Let me try one more time here. Boy, I'm sorry, guys, I don't know what's going on. Scott, you got any suggestions?



JOBS: We're actually on Wi-Fi here.


SYLVESTER: Jobs eventually gave up and let his staff do the troubleshooting. The issue was with the network in the room and not with the new phone. The new thinner iPhone 4 has a front-facing camera for video conferencing. It also sports a longer battery life and incredibly high resolution screen -- Wolf.

BLITZER: It's a great phone, but a pretty embarrassing moment for Steve Jobs. All right. Thanks very much, Lisa, for that. Let's go to Jack once again for the Cafferty file -- Jack.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I wonder if there's an executive in that company with a short shelf life as a result of that little screw-up today.

BLITZER: I think they should have rehearsed that one.

CAFFERTY: Yes, looks like it. Question this hour, what if influence from pharmaceutical companies led the World Health Organization to exaggerate the swine flu threat?

Alexa in Virginia writes, I got the swine flu last fall. It knocked me flat. I was incapacitated for about a month and still feeling it a month after that. I have never felt physically worse in my life. I find it completely believable that in someone with a weaker immune system, it could have led to hospitalization and serious consequences. If the hype over swine flu led to more immunizations in the people who needed it most, then I don't care where the motivation came from, it helped to save people's lives.

Stephanie writes, what about the media, Jack? The media had nonstop coverage on the possible spread, the dangers, criticism that it was taking too long to supply the vaccines across the country. Talk about exaggeration and pumping up the public's anxiety.

Mark in Chicago writes, good question, Jack, especially surprising from you. The reports don't argue the data was wrong, only that some relationships were not disclosed. Appearance is everything in ethics and the W.H.O. should have known better. A simple caveat by them revealing the ties would have sufficed especially since the pedigree of the scientists and epidemiologists consulting for the WHO are top notch.

Marja in Sweden, that's exactly what happened. It was the same way with the bird flu. And the reporters both on TV and in the newspapers incited people to hysteria. I could guess it, so I never took any vaccination, even though, I would have gotten them for free here in Sweden.

Mari writes, is anyone surprised? Big oil, big pharma, et cetera own our nation.

Brandon in Alaska writes, if the worst case scenario were played out and there hadn't been enough vaccines produced, these guys would have been stoned to death. Better to use too much caution than not enough.

And Joe writes from Delray Beach, Florida, you know, there's something not kosher about the swine flu, anyway.

If you want to read more on this, you'll find it on my blog at Get that joke there?

BLITZER: I did. Kosher, about swine. Yes, I got it. See you tomorrow, Jack.

CAFFERTY: That's humor.

BLITZER: Just a little. Bye.

Up next, the most innocent victims in the Gulf.


BLITZER: Viewers trying to save birds from the oil are using something most unusual. Here's Jeanne Moos.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): There's a lot more to washing pelicans than there is to washing dishes, but they do have one thing in common. Remember Madge the manicurist?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're soaking in it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The dishwashing liquid?


MOOS: Yes, well, what the pelicans are soaking in is Dawn. Animal rescue folks have been using it for 30 years. Now, do you recommend lavender and jasmine or do you recommend apple blossom or what's good for the pelicans?

VOICE OF SUSAN BABA, P&G EXTERNAL RELATIONS MANAGER: I mean, what they actually use is the Dawn blue. We call it Dawn blue. It's the original scent of Dawn.

MOOS: Procter & Gamble has donated 6,000 bottles of Dawn and shipped them to the Gulf. it's diluted with water and squirted on the birds. Tough on grease, but gentle, say the ads. Ads that got Stephen Colbert imagining a conspiracy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Someone who had something to gain from oil- soaked wildlife.


MOOS: They first aired the commercial last summer way before the latest oil spill. So, this YouTuber with a towel on his head has his own theory.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My (EXPLETIVE WORD) theory is they dip the (EXPLETIVE WORD) animals in oil. So, (EXPLETIVE WORD) all (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, we did not dip the animals in oil for the commercial.

MOOS: The folks at Dawn say they made a paste.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Finger paint and a couple of different colors of Dawn.

MOOS: The International Bird Rescue Research Center uses Dawn all the time. The oil covered birds are washed and then rinsed. Three times. First the oil is wiped off, moving in the direction of the feathers, then they're scrubbed even using toothbrushes and cotton swabs around delicate areas like the eyes. The weirdest part to clean?



MOOS: The pouch they hold their fish in turned inside out.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They can hold more than its belly can.

MOOS: But they do not use Dawn inside the pelican's pouch.

MOOS (on-camera): Just sort of you forgot you can use this stuff to do dishes. Some folks claim you can use it to repel ants or to kill fleas.

MOOS (voice-over): And some pet owners wash their dogs in it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's a good puppy.

MOOS: Beauty schools sometimes tell hairdressers to use Dawn if a dye job comes out too dark.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It lightens the hair color.

MOOS: Rub adub dub, there's a pelican in the tub.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: See, the pelicans are getting highlights.

MOOS: Hey, take it easy, that's my pouch, not a vacuum cleaner bag.

Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


BLITZER: I'm Wolf Blitzer in the SITUATION ROOM. "John King, USA" starts right now.