tv CNN Special Report CNN April 14, 2015 6:00pm-7:01pm PDT
singer. thank you very much. up next on the five year anniversary of the bp disaster, and the impact it has had on the people and the environment. "blowout: the gulf oil distaster" starts right now. >> the following is a cnn special report. >> massive oil rig explosion off the coast of louisiana. >> a deadly disaster. >> i've never been so scared in my whole entire life. >> families devastated. >> they don't have to miss him the way i do. >> the worst environmental catastrophe in american history. >> the sheen, it went on for miles. >> a nation watches in horror. a tide of oil hit shore. >> heartbreaking new pictures coming in from the gulf coast.
>> now five years later, we return to the gulf as cnn investigates. >> i'm curious to get in the water now -- the aftermath. >> the gulf is recovering now. in their world, the gulf is not back. >> is it really over? >> we have no idea how this is going to end. >> >> i'm drew griffin. tonight, "blowout, the gulf oil disaster." >> it rose over the gleaming waters of the gulf of mexico more than 30 stories high and 48 miles off shore. the deepwater horizon, a premier vessel, drilling deep into the ocean floor. shelly anderson's husband jason helped supervise the drilling. >> it is the best. he loved it. it was in his blood and he didn't want to do anything else.
>> that is where the oil companies put their best and brightest. >> keith jones' son was a mud neuron the horizon. >> the deeper it goes, the more talented and able they want the crews to be. >> more talented to handle the rigorous and ambitious work. for more than two months they had been drilling the reservoir of millions of barrels of oil and natural gas, three miles below the ocean floor, belonging to bp, transocean owning the well and halliburton, contractored to seal it. home videos captured life on board. here the crew became like family, working side by side, weeks on end. >> that was one of the rigs out there. >> tyrone worked one of the
under water vehicles. >> did you think it was, at the time, one of the safest? >> of course, i did. >> april 20th, 2010. just saver 9:00 p.m., with drilling complete, the crew of the deepwater horizon entered the final stages of sealing in the well. >> it was just a regular routine day. we went knocking off. head supper. took a shower. just unwinding. >> for many this was the end of the assignment. they would go home the next day. >> about to drift off to sleep. and the next thing you know -- boom. the loudest bang i've ever heard. and the next thing you know i heard the dreadful sound of a train whistle. if you ever heard a train whistle on a rig, that is a
blowout. >> on an oil rig, it was the unthinkable. a blowout, sending a torrent of highly pressurized of oil and gas racing uncontrollably to the surface. >> you are shaking and the whole rig is moving and things are falling down and you are hearing people screaming and yelling. it is complete pandemonium. >> by the time i could say holy crap, that is when the big explosion went off. >> the rig is blowing. >> anthony turned toward the rig and saw this. he was on board the horizon supply ship the bangston as the rig exploded. >> it actually ripped the ceiling off the wall. >> as bangston crew members recorded the eruption, the crew on the deepwater horizon scrambled for their lives. >> something you never expect to see. you're in shock. and all i could do was brace
myself for the next explosion. >> i've never been so scared in my whole entire life. >> and the whole time i'm watching this, i'm thinking, this can't be. i didn't know how to explain it. you are in terror. >> i hear that train whistle again and it is getting louder and it is getting louder. and sure enough, it explodes. i was afraid that this is it. >> the crew rushes to the rig's two scrape boats. >> and i turn around and the whole tower was completely engulfed in flames. four, five -- 600 feet just nothing but flames. >> at that point, i saw one person jumping in. his life jacket has reflective tape which makes it like a
spotlight in the water. >> a white line falling off the rig meant a crew member in a life jacket jumping for his life. >> man overboard. >> he launched the bangston small rescue boat. >> the water was on fire from the oil. the first person we grabbed, got him on the boat and we started to head to the next person. >> as the deepwater horizon burned, there was utter confusion on the life boats. >> they are trying to take names, trying to get a count of everyone. but you really can't get a count of everyone because you have people jumping overboard. >> that was probably the worst part of it, just being in the life boat. it is like you are almost waiting to die. there are people screaming, put it in the water, let's go and it is filling up with smoke and can
you feel the heat from the water. >> life boats heading to the deck of the bangston where a head coat begins. >> i sat on the back of the life boat watching it burn and listening to the explosions all night. >> the surviving crew members looked around and realized -- they were not all there. coming up -- >> it was going its way and gordon was unaccounted for. and the samsung galaxy s6 edge is breaking the rules of design. can't get your hands on it because you're locked down by a carrier? break free t-mobile will pay every penny of your switching fees.
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sky. >> the rig is blowing. >> millions and million of highly pressurized oil and gas were an uncontrollable torrent of flame. >> anthony helped rescue the oil workers. >> they were doing roll call, they were doing muster, and there were a few guys that we just didn't hear from. >> 126 crew members had been on board the deepwater horizon when the well blew out. as the roll call continued, the crew realized not all 126 had made it off. >> that is when we -- they knew that there were 11 missing. >> and i assume some of them were your friends? >> yeah. yeah. they were closer to me than family. and some of them were planning on getting off the rig, just the very next day.
>> families waiting on shore were in the dark. the crew told to make no phone calls until it was confirmed 11 men were actually missing. >> my wife didn't have a clue on if i was alive or dead. >> tyrone benton remembers it was daylight when he finally called his wife. >> do you remember the call? >> yeah, i do. i remember it like it was yesterday. she was so happy to hear my voice. i told her, baby, i'm okay. and i will be home. i will be home. and that was that. >> officials now fear the 11 workers missing since tuesday's explosion may have been unable to escape when the blast occurred. >> when when the coast guard searched for the missing, most knew it was impossible for any to survive. >> when did you find out that he's not only missing, he's
gone? >> oh, days -- days. there was a certain point where i just knew that i -- but i pretended not to. mostly for everybody else's sake. but we just waited for that word, the official word that the coast guard had stopped searching. >> the bodies of the missing men were never recovered. not shelly anderson's husband jason and not keith jones' son gordon. >> we didn't have anything of gordon. not a trace of anything. we have pictures. we have videos, we have -- i have the gifts that gordon gave me over the years that -- that are precious to me. but it's a -- it's a greater
loss somehow not to have anything. >> five years later, shelly anderson has come to realize her husband predicted his fate. >> after the fact, you learned what he told his dad? >> yes. that they were doing some things that he didn't think was right. that they were doing some things that he didn't think was right and it was going to get somebody killed. >> he said those words? >> to his dad, not to me. >> it was a general sense of a rush, of pressure, of not taking the time to be careful. >> richard larrerous wrote the report, and an e-mail uncovered said the operation was flying by the seat of our pants.
>> there is no question, it is a culture of let's get this done as quickly as possible. because the quicker you get it done, the more quicker you get home and you spend less money on the development stage of the well. >> the project was behind schedule, over budget and hemorrhaging a million dollars a day. >> they were doing a lot of shortcuts and i wasn't aware of the shortcuts until now. and i'm so angry to know that they didn't think of our lives as that important, you know. it hurts. >> but shortcuts were only part of the problem. >> what we saw was really more of a systemic failure, expressed by individual incorrect decisions but the whole series of them. >> among the findings, the cement seal at the bottom of the well had failed and the final pressure test to determine the stability was misinterpreted it
and they missed that the blowout preventer didn't work. >> who is ultimately responsible for this accident? >> i think bp is the one who had the ultimate responsibility it. was their well, they were in charge of the drilling, they were in charge of the process. so they are ultimately responsible for it. and they are the ones who made the mistakes. they are not the only ones. halliburton we think had a major responsibility here as well. and our conclusion is their cement failed. and we found several mistakes that transocean made in terms of the training of their personnel. >> in april of 2010 there was much more to deal with than assigning blame with the explosion of the well, another crisis was brewing. coming up -- >> the sheen -- the first thing you saw was the sheen. deep under water, an
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the ocean floor. the fire was out, but the disaster was just beginning. oil spreading for miles across the gulf. in louisiana, plaquemine's perish feared what was coming. >> when it did surface and it was off shore, everyone off the coast was worried it was coming to shore. >> then came the image that horrified americans. live under water pictures of the well itself, gushing oil. >> cnn had that shot in the corner of the television all of the time. it was horrific. >> janet napolitano was head of homeland security. >> bp alerted us to additional oil leaking from their deep under water well. >> but the federal government could do almost nothing to stop the relentless flow. >> there is a very confusing statute that came into play and
it said th-- that bp was the responsie party and a partner. >> so the government had to rely on the polluter, bp, to fix it. >> it was a foreign company that came here and seemed to be making all of the decisions. and that is unfortunate. >> juliette was in charge of coordinating the government's response. >> and there was no other way. >> no other way. i mean, so you get rid of bp, who do we have to close the darn well? >> but bp didn't have a quick solution. >> they may have had a plan, but they never practiced it, executed it or equipped for it, for a rig of this size, drilling at this depth, experiencing a catastrophic failure. >> how catastrophic? >> when the event first started our best estimate was a thousand barrels a day but as we began to
gather more data we revised that to 5,000 barrels a day. >> the original estimate said the barrel was released 5,000 barrels of oil into the gulf but internally bp leadership was warned, the leak could be as great as 70,000 barrels a day. >> if there was anything we could redo in the early days is -- don't trust the numbers. >> as this image ran day after day on cnn -- >> i'm tony hayward, bp has taken full responsibility for cleaning up the spill in the gulf. >> the oil company launched a p.r. campaign in the midst of the uncontrollable disaster. and then the bp ceo tony hayward made a poor choice of word. >> there is no one that wants this thing over more than i do. i would like my life back. >> i lost my son in the
deepwater horizon. that is the life i want back. but he didn't, he wanted his life back. >> there was the bp of wanting to get their life back and the bp of yacht clubs and sailing lessons and thought, they are just not getting it. they're not getting it. >> out in the gulf, a battle to clean up the oil waged on with little success. the slick was intentionally set on fire, workersond boats tried to vacuum and scoop it up and finally the government made a decision, it would allow the bp to use a chemical disburse ant used in huge quantities to break the oil it. >> the air was toxic. the water was not this crystal magnificent blew. >> ocean og raffer mandy joy and her team have worked for 20
years in the gulf and she said no one could grasp how much oil was out there. >> people were so sick they had to go into their bunk and then there were the birds and the sea turtles that you saw covered in oil. >> you could see the extent of how much oil was out there. i think that was the moment for me when i realized that this was an environmental disaster unlike anything i'd ever seen. >> ocean conservationist philippe cousteau saw what was happening. he took a dive to find out what was happening under water as the oil flowed. >> i don't want to be here. and if i was, i wouldn't want to be free diving off of one of these rigs. >> we had suits on and the oil is a toxant and the dispersant is a toxant as well.
>> the whole purpose was to help the world recognize that there is not just the oil at the surface, but there is a lot more going on beneath the surface. and seeing that oily mess just descending from the surface down for as far as i could see, dead jelly fish covered in oil, algae, fish and everywhere you looked, there was just devastation. >> once that oil hit shore, we lost the narrative. >> when it hit, marshes were blackened and bird and fish were dying. the government couldn't contain the disaster or control the message. >> it is hard to look at these heartbreaking new pictures coming in from the gulf coast. >> we lost the narrative with cnn. it was -- it was an oil -- pellican every single day and we knew it was covering but just
hadn't prepared everyone for it. >> for months bp engineers tried every day, trying and failing to stop the oil. under water operations involving huge caps and huge risks, delicately put in motion. >> there was a real risk that it would cause an explosion within the recognize voir and leave this uncontrolled spill. >> they are watching with just -- just holding their breath. >> finally, on the 87th day of the spill, the oil stopped and the cap held. >> a successful seal, bp said it has permanently plugged the well in the gulf. >> the total spill, a staggering total more than 5 million barrels of oil. more than a thousand miles of shoreline was covered in it. tourists fled, the off shore oil industry was shut down and
fishing in the gulf was halted. the economy of the gulf was crumbling. >> that was something that just kind of drove a nail in the coffin of a lot of families that their son might have been a fisherman or their husband might have worked off shore. >> all anyone could do was look off shore and ask, would the gulf ever recover? n multimedia , and a head-up display for enhanced driver focus. all inside a redesigned cabin of unrivaled style and comfort. the 2015 c-class. at the very touchpoint of performance and innovation. see your authorized mercedes-benz dealer for exceptional offers through mercedes-benz financial services.
bed. >> is it better for it to be on the bottom than in the water column. frankly, there is so much that we don't know. >> jeff morale is the bp senior vice president of communications. >> you realize that some of the ocean is still on the floor. 1200 square miles. >> no. >> bp own studies come to different conclusions. >> the data collected shows no missing or layer of oil that spreads out across the gulf floor but that any residual oil that still remains is around the well head in a tight radius about 2 kilometers and in tarmacs around the gulf states that at this point are few and far between. >> but cousteau believes it is spread throughout the eco-system. >> it is still in many cases in
the sand, along the shoreline and along the marches and existing on a microscopic scale. you might not be able to see that to the eye but that doesn't mean it is not having an impact on the wildlife in and around the gulf of mexico. >> assessing the impact of the spill is tricky, even here. >> you were saying you are stunned, five years ago when we were hill it was just a lush, green, grasses and mangroves, very important bird-nesting island and a true island, not this spit of land. >> back then the island was covered with nesting birds and then suddenly it was covered with oil. >> all that is left are these roots, these little tree stubs of mangroves. and imagine this place just
covered. >> david is with the national wildlife federation coastal campaign. >> the mangroves began to show signs of stress and fewer birds were able to nest and now to the point there are no mangroves living and no nesting going on here. >> was the oil to blame? or the years of erosion that preceded the spill -- proceeded the spill or both? it is hard to be sure. did it cause permanent damage to the wildlife? the proof is tricky. there is signs of damage and decay, birds from pelicans to laughing gulls to others have seen declined and dolphins are dying. we saw a mother trying to revive her baby calf. >> there is no proof that bp's huge oil spill will have a
permanent negative effect on any species. >> the gulf is clearly much more naturally resilient than we ever appreciated. >> bp's conclusion, the gulf is rebounding. >> we are not in any way trying to suggest that there was not an impact. there clearly was. birds, fish, turtles, sub-sea vegetation and sediment species were impacted, there is no question about that, but they have also, according to the data, bounced back and recovering strongly and there is no data that suggests there is no long-term impact to any species. >> the natural resource damage assessment trustees and government agencies studying the effects. spi they call the bp report
incomplete and inappropriate and they say they know the impacts of the spill are likely to last for generation. >> the trustees say they don't know enough to draw the conclusion that bp is drawing and no other government official that we talked to, said bp is cherry picking its data. >> we are not cherry picking the data. if you look at the report we put out at the five-year mark, it shows things both positive and negative about the environment. so this is not cherry picking by any means. this is the most comprehensive view of the gulf. >> is the gulf nearing recovery? >> ah, you know, we are in the process of a long-term study of the effects of the bp oil. you can't do population level studies overnight. it takes time to look and see what is happening. >> and when you are talking about showing the restorative values and the bp campaign. they are certainly not showing
you. they are not showing you cat island? >> no, they are not showing you this. >> coming up, five years later, the oil remains. >> stay away from the hazardous material. this is a clean-up site. we all enter this world with a shout, and we see no reason to stop. so cvs health is creating industry-leading programs and tools that help people stay on medicines as their doctors prescribed.
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a bay in louisiana, the marshes and shores of these islands were once covered in oil. today from our boat, we spot two dozen workers wearing face masks, shoveling and working on a stretch of beach. we pull up to take a look. >> how are you doing? >> doing good. >> drew griffin with cnn. >> nice to meet you. >> this is philippe cousteau. >> we'll have you stay away from the hazardous material, this is a clean-up site. >> the hazardous material was bp oil, a 30 pound tar ball that was matched and it was from bp.
>> oil in big enough clumps it needs to be dug up from a crew like this digging up 30 inches trying to take it up and remove it. >> the pocket of tar are in areas known to us but deemed by the federal government to be better to leave alone there and let them be naturally exposed to -- through erosion and then for us to clean them. so as they appear, we are finding them and removing them. but none of them poses a threat to human or aquatic life. >> and is this going to go on or years and years? >> however long it goes on, the company is committed to cleaning up. >> how much do you expect this will cost bp. >> the company has provisioned $45 billion for all of the liabilities associated with the spill.
we have spent just thus far in honoring our obligation to restore the gulf environment and economy, $28 billion. >> half of that $28 billion, according to bp, has been paid to settle hundreds of thousands of claims, to businesses and individuals across the gulf who suffered a financial loss as a result of the spill. third generation oysterman mitch runs one of the largest oyster operations in louisiana and has already settled for millions and is using the money to rebuild his oyster biz. >> sure, we're getting money from them and we're investing it and we're investing it in something we don't know if we'll get back. the spawn is there. and the oyster larvae for some reason is not living. that is the problem. >> though fishing in the gulf has improved overall, he fears
an uncertain future. >> we've been on a steady decline since the spill and we're looking about a 40% decrease from the previous year. what happens ten years from now, what happens 10, 0 years from now? >> across the mississippi, on the east side of louisiana's famed oyster grounds, it is a much bleaker story. >> this is point alahach. oystermen here aren't the bigger, they are the smaller. >> we work day per day. i didn't own a boat. somebody gave me a skiff to go out there and survive and make a living. >> and five years later you still have no oysters. >> no oysters and we can't repair our boats. we can't afford to do that. >> the oysters in the public grounds of plaquemine's perish is not back. bp tried to keep out by
diverting freshwater in. it is being blamed for killing the oysters. in five years there hasn't been a harvest or a paycheck. >> i don't get nothing. i'm out in the cold. >> byron and khalid are suing bp. other fishermen are still waiting on settlement claims. >> we've been left behind. for five years without an oyster and no relief in sight. none whatsoever. >> so we're five years out and most people in the country see those marshalls, the movement is good, the beaches are clean, what is your message? >> my message is come to point la hache and see a community dying away. >> former
>> former plaquemines parish governor says this is the unseen damage of the bp oil spill. for many, a way of life that may be ending. >> louisiana seafood is the best in the world. and so, the livelihood of a lot of people depend on it. not just the fishermen. people that work in the restaurants, people that distribute. there's a whole culture here and a whole way of life that for the last five years, as it's come back, and it has some, what is going to be the long-term effects and will there be a drop-off at some point that won't be sustainable? and that's the unknown question. >> and you're saying, not only is there a lingering fear, was there's a lingering fear that's preventing reinvestment or investment in the future? >> well, i think some -- you know, some of the futurermen have sold their boats. some of them have opted to try to do other things.
and that's sad, because you know, a lot of these people, this is in their blood. it's been in their families for generations. >> out in the gulf, one industry is coming back. still ahead, the hunt for oil is going deeper and farther offshore. but is it any safer? >> could this happen again? yes, the industry is the same zri stri. when you're not confident your company's data is secure, the possibility of a breach can quickly become the only thing you think about. that's where at&t can help. we monitor network traffic worldwide, so we can see things others can't.
drilling deeper and even farther into the gulf, but is it any safer? >> we have really beefed up our training. we have far greater oversight of our operations now, including a 24/7, high-tech, monitoring facility in houston. we've introduced new technology that clearly makes drilling safer, but also, if, god forbid, there were ever a problem in the future, will prevent it from ever manifesting itself into a spill into the size and duration and proportions that the deepwater horizon was. >> bp's geoff morrell insists the company has learned its lesson. >> we have determined what were the causes of the accident, what our role in it was, but more broadly, we looked at what were things that we all could do to become safer as an industry, when it came to offshore drilling? >> the industry has made voluntary improvements, like deploying capping stacks around the world, that can instantly
stop the flow of oil. and there is a new federal agency and new regulations to oversee offshore drilling, but congress has yet to give that agency sufficient power. >> congress has done -- >> congress has done absolutely nothing. zero. and this is just truly stunning to me. >> richard lazarus wrote the official government report on the oil spill and his staff made recommendations to improve deepwater drilling safety. only some of the recommendations have been acted on. >> here we had extraordinary -- the nation's biggest environmental catastrophe. and five years later, congress has passed not one word of legislation to make any effort to go after and reduce the risk. >> the industry is the same industry. it wants its oil. >> juliette kayyem, who helped
guide the white house response during the spill, now teaches emergency response at harvard. >> there's been no congressional changes -- >> so this could happen again? >> it could happen again, absolutely. >> my prayer is that it won't happen again. but we can't know that. >> keith jones has spent part of the last five years fighting to change legislation in memory of his son, gordon. he had been unsuccessful. >> as long as that oil was gushing, congressmen and senators couldn't see me fast enough. the day they cut off that oil, you could feel the climate change. it was palpable. >> crisis over in their minds? >> right. my life is in two parts. the part before gordon was killed and the part after gordon was killed. and that part of my life is five years old now. and it will always be different.
>> we feel terrible about what happened. this was an awful tragedy and we feel sorry for what they've gone through. i don't think there's anything i or anyone else at bp could say that would in any way ease their pain. the best that we could probably do for them is what we are doing now, which is to make sure that each and every day, all 80,000 of us get up with a singular focus. and that is to make sure that an accident like this or any other never happens again. >> they didn't know jason. they don't have to love him the way i do. they don't have to miss him the way i do. they don't have to wish that he was here. jason's memory is here. >> shelly anderson, who lost her husband in the blast, settled a lawsuit that will keep her and her two children financially
secure. >> i was hospitalized, i was stressed, i had high blood pressure to the point where i couldn't take care of my children and i'm all they have left, so, yes, we settled it. i just couldn't go on anymore. >> emotionally, her future is day by day. >> mama! >> how'd you do? >> she holds no bitterness for bp or the oil industry. >> do you have homework? >> i have a different life. not the one i'd planned for. >> okay, so one fish was up there. >> i'm here, i have two wonderful children and if we are going to do the best we can every single day. >> it is much the same for the gulf itself. is it truly back? no. is it truly destroyed? no. it is a different life, struggling, surviving. and it may never be the same.
this is "cnn tonight." i'm brooke baldwin in for don lemmon. this is the shocking dash cam video you have to see. watch this with me. why police say they saved the suspect's life by ramming him with a police car. plus, the suspect in this incredible video. he falls from a horse, is beaten by deputies in california, while a news chopper captured this whole scene. he tells his story right here live tonight. and this. imagine you're in a crowd of hundreds of people, broad daylight, when you realize a terrible crime is being committed right next to you. would you do something about it? are you sure? it happened to a young woman who was allegedly gang-raped in a crowded florida beach during spring