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BP and Obama Administration Under Fire For Oil Leak Response

Aired June 09, 2010 - 22:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight: holding BP accountable, "Keeping Them Honest."

As oil continues to gush yet again into the Gulf, the government's man in charge, Admiral Thad Allen, sends a letter to BP CEO Tony Hayward demanding more transparency on claim payments. As we have been telling you for weeks, fishermen say they're not getting paid.

People here say that would certainly be a start. But few here believe that BP has been transparent about much of anything.

Now, here's a letter that we obtained today. This is sent from BP's chief operating officer, Doug Suttles, to BP employees in the Gulf. It wasn't sent to us, because we don't actually get direct communication with BP.

He writes: "BP has not and will not prevent anyone working in the cleanup operation from sharing his or her own experiences or opinions with the media." He says he has not and will not.

Now, I can tell you the first part, has not, is simply not true. BP has hired security people to keep journalists away from cleanup teams. They have worker -- workers over and over have told us and told me over and over that they can't talk because BP told them they would lose their jobs.

BP made fishing crews early on sign nondisclosure contracts until the fishermen's association took the company to court. So, BP saying it has not tried to muzzle people, well, that is simply -- I mean, that dog just won't hunt.

Now, whether they will not, that remains to be seen. And we will be "Keeping Them Honest." They promised transparency, as you know, numerous times in the past. But, I mean, let's be real here. Let's remember they didn't make video pictures of a leak available for weeks.

And, even then, it was a 30-second clip, and not until forced to do that by Congress. They didn't make these high-resolution H.D. pictures available to flow rate scientists, at least one of the scientists we talked to, until yesterday, and only after lawmakers pressured them. We didn't even know these pictures existed.

They didn't tell the public or even Thad Allen they had suspended the top kill operation until 16 hours later. And, for weeks, we know, they have lowballed the amount of oil gushing into the Gulf. I mean, they did this along with the Coast Guard, until the Coast Guard stopped doing joint briefings with them? Take a look.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're estimating 1,000 barrels a day.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Someone between 1,000 and 5,000 barrels a day.

DOUG SUTTLES, COO, GLOBAL EXPLORATION, BP: Five thousand barrels a day.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The flow rate technical group has determined the overall estimate potentially flowing from the well is a range of 12,000 to 19,000 barrels per day.

ADMIRAL THAD ALLEN, U.S. COAST GUARD COMMANDANT: Twelve thousand to 19,000 and 12,000 to 25,000.


COOPER: So, Thad Allen, on Sunday, I heard that it was 25,000. That was the first time I ever heard that.

The number now just keeps going up. And even though BP has said almost from day one that knowing the size of the leak isn't important, they were focused on fixing it, they said, not measuring it, well, now at least the Coast Guard is saying it is essential to know the size of this leak.

Today, BP is saying that the cap on top of the cut riser pipe is catching more than 15,000 barrels a day -- 15,000 barrels. Now, they have never even admitted that 15,000 barrels of oil were coming out of that pipe. Fifteen thousand barrels is 15 times the original estimated size of the leak, triple the 5,000 figure they clung to long after independent scientists said it was bunk. Fifteen thousand barrels is more than 100 percent of the current low-end estimate of 12,000 barrels leaking a day.

So, 15,000 barrels, I mean, you can look. Look at the picture. See for yourself, all that stuff still coming out of that pipe. We have not been getting the real story, the truth, from day one.

If getting answers from BP is tough, so is getting action. I found that out today with a very frustrated Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal on a beach trying to show BP the way.


COOPER (voice-over): On East Grand Terre Island, a simple and seemingly successful experiment in cleaning up crude, a rudimentary vacuum which sucks up oil on the surface of water and sends it to a container on a nearby barge.

You would think dozens of vacuums like this have been deployed all over Louisiana for weeks, but they haven't. In fact, there are only a handful being used, and they have only been running for a couple of days.

(on camera): When you see this, what do you think?

GOV. BOBBY JINDAL (R), LOUISIANA: This -- this is exactly how we need to be fighting this oil.

COOPER (voice-over): Governor Bobby Jindal and local officials are so fed up waiting for BP to clean up oil, that they have gone ahead and are testing a few of these vacuums with the help of the National Guard.

JINDAL: We know we have got to use more aggressive, more creative solutions. This is why. And I'm not...


COOPER (on camera): You call this Cajun ingenuity.

JINDAL: Absolutely. This is South Louisiana Cajun ingenuity. You know, the same people that brought you the Higgins boats are now bringing you -- the same people that brought you the New Orleans Saints, LSU Tigers are now bringing you this. It's a vacuum truck on the back of a barge.

This isn't a silver bullet. But what we're saying is, this, in combination with the sand dredging, which was another Louisiana idea, in combination with booming only the critical passes, in combination with using dredges and rocks in the main passes, all of those together give you true multiple lines of defense.

COOPER (voice-over): So far, the Coast Guard has only authorized the limited use of these vacuums. They can only suck up a few thousand gallons of oil a day.

But with larger equipment, and more of it, state officials insist the vacuums could be a big help.

(on camera): Without something to actually suck up this oil, what you're left essentially are these booms, which prevents the oil from spreading further into the marshes. You can see the oil basically congeals here in these thick globs.

But, in order to get rid of this oil, they come in with absorbent pads. That's the method they're using now. But it's a pretty slow method and pretty ineffective.

(voice-over): To pressure BP to start using the vacuums, Governor Jindal brought a group of reporters out today to demonstrate how they work, a photo-op, to be sure, but the governor is willing to try just about anything to get BP's attention.

(on camera): So, governor, what's your message to BP today?

JINDAL: My bottom-line message is, we're showing that it works. Let's scale this up quickly. Let's not wait. Don't wait for this oil to hit the coastline. The plans they have got are not enough. This idea that they are just going to come out with absorbent pads or they're going to eventually send us shallow-water skimmers is not enough, or that they're just going to leave the oil here is not enough.

They have got to fight this oil before it comes on our coastline. My message is, this is a war. And the way we win the war is throw everything we have got to keep this oil out of the wetlands.

COOPER: How frustrating is it that, you know, 50-plus days into this, it's coming down to you coming out here with National Guard and kind of jerry-rigging a system?

JINDAL: You know, at the end of the day, we have said all along, we're not waiting for others to come rescue us. We have got to protect our coast. The people that live down here, that work down here know what is at stake.

This is our way of life. And, look, it is frustrating, because we get told day after day there will be more skimmers tomorrow, more boom tomorrow. We said, enough is enough. We're not waiting for all that.

COOPER (voice-over): He may not want to wait any longer, but to vacuum this oil on a larger scale, he does have to get further approval from the Coast Guard and somehow convince BP to pick up the tab.


COOPER: It seems so simple.

Let's bring in Democratic strategist and nonpartisan Louisianian James Carville, also Rice University presidential historian Douglas Brinkley.

I want to talk about this kind of simple solution.

But, first, this high resolution video, I haven't been able to talk to you about this. It boggles my mind that, last night, we talked to a scientist on the flow rate team mandated by the government to estimate this leak, which the Coast Guard has said is crucial. He didn't get high-resolution video until yesterday.

JAMES CARVILLE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: If it wouldn't be for Congressman Markey, Senator Boxer, and Senator Nelson, we wouldn't even have this today.

And I talked to somebody very, very high on the Environment and Public Works Committee. The lawyers fought this the whole way. They had everything.


COOPER: BP lawyers? CARVILLE: And, finally, BP lawyers -- BP lawyers delivered the tape to the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. That's how we got it.

Now, I don't understand why somebody doesn't drop a subpoena, or the Justice Department or somebody doesn't drop a subpoena, and say, if we don't have it in 24 hours, that's it, partner. We're not fooling around.

COOPER: Right.

CARVILLE: This is a matter of national security.

The Louisiana coast is being invaded right now. Just literally, we're under invasion from this oil. And I'm waiting for somebody to say, hey, we are going to fight them in the estuaries, we are going to fight them in the beaches, we are going to fight them in the bayous, we are going to fight them in the bays.

COOPER: Right.

CARVILLE: I mean, I'm -- I'm with the governor here. I think let's get this thing cranked up here.


COOPER: And, Doug, Congressman Markey didn't even know about the existence of -- until -- of this high-resolution video until he read about it in the paper in the morning.

And what I was stunned about is, this morning, Thad Allen, Admiral Allen, was asked about this, if he knew about the video. He didn't answer that part of the question. So, I'm wondering if he actually knew this video existed for weeks.

But, also, when -- when asked to explain why it was just released, he said, well, you have got to burn it to a DVD and actually physically take it off the rig from -- from -- you know, from these undersea submersibles. I mean, you can get these things made at Kinko's.

I don't understand. Is -- is burning a DVD that complex an operation? I'm not -- I don't know that much about technology, but I think it's pretty easy.


COOPER: There's a question somewhere in there.

BRINKLEY: Yes. No. It's Doug here.

Well, look, this is just another day of bad faith for BP, the fact that they have had this high-definition tape, they have kept it, hidden it, fought to release it, as James said, eventually. It's like pulling teeth to get it from them. They clearly don't want the American people to know what's going on. And I remember about a week ago, when top kill was going on, and -- and all these operations, and they didn't want people to watch what they were doing and they wouldn't provide a commentator.

You used to say, Anderson, why not have something like a NASA space launch? But the -- the -- the anger has hit Capitol Hill in a way, and it's bipartisan right now. You just heard Bobby Jindal. Bill Nelson right now is starting with an AP story that these guys, BP, was -- was writing phony reports that they had a response plan that they were going to protect -- dealing with walruses and seals in the Gulf of Mexico...

COOPER: Right.

BRINKLEY: ... when it doesn't even exist.

COOPER: And this was a response plan which, by the way, approved by U.S. officials, and it said walruses and seals.


There's a story in "Rolling Stone" by Tim Dickinson, one of the bests things -- everybody has got to read this -- about how corrupted this MMS was. And it's just failure to sort of protect people.

But, you know, coming back to this, we have got to say, this is literally -- we have got to treat this like it's an invasion. And the next thing, if BP just continues to delay, and lawyer up, and say they don't have this, and hide it, and say we couldn't burn the disc or something, then start arresting people, OK?

I mean, something has got to be wrong here, if we're under invasion, and these people just keep playing like hide the tape from us or something. They put poor Martha Stewart in jail because she fibbed to an FBI agent.

I mean, somebody has got to come in and drop the hammer here. They -- you look at -- you can see the stuff that is going on, on the coast right now.

COOPER: Well, Martha Stewart would get this cleaned up very quickly.

CARVILLE: She would. I'm for it. Bring her down here.


COOPER: We're going to -- James, stick around.

Doug, stay right there.

More after the break.

A reminder: the live chat. Let us know what you think about what is going on at Also tonight, you're going to meet some of the local people trying to collect what BP owes them and has owed them for weeks now, and they are still waiting. One of the richest companies in the world, we're talking about.

Also, what BP -- BP's Doug Suttles had to say to John Roberts after a chopper tour over a mess like this.


COOPER: Well, reaction today -- fair or unfair, you be the judge -- to President Obama saying he has yet to pick up the phone and talk with BP CEO Tony Hayward, the president telling NBC's Matt Lauer that Hayward would only tell him what he thinks he would want to hear. Mr. Obama says he's more interested in action.

Sarah Palin criticized him on her Facebook page. Republican Party leader Michael Steele asked why the president could foresee talking to Iran's president, but not the head of BP.

Today, at the White House, CNN's Ed Henry asked spokesman Robert Gibbs about it.


ED HENRY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: He's the leader of the company, though. He's the guy who has been the -- he's in the ads, the $50 million ads, the president has criticized. It's Tony Hayward saying: We're going to get this done. We're going to clean it up.

ROBERT GIBBS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Yes. No, no, I understand who's in the ads. I'm just -- I'm telling you, based on the corporate governance structure, Ed, in order to implement what -- what it -- whatever you get from BP, the CEO has to get clearance from the board to do. That's -- that's the way the corporate governance structure is -- is laid out.

HENRY: OK. So -- but when the president said in the NBC interview that he talks to these experts, so he knows who's "blank" to kick, presumably...

QUESTION: "Ass," I think, was the word.

HENRY: Yes, I think -- presumably, Tony Hayward is the biggest "blank" in this whole -- you know, he's the leader, right?


HENRY: Is that a hollow claim that he's kicking butt here, or why not pick up the phone and tell the CEO, "We have got to clean up this claims process"?

GIBBS: Well, that's happening today as a result of the meeting that's happening between Tony Hayward and the person in charge of claims for British Petroleum. (END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: All right, back now with James Carville and Douglas Brinkley.

I don't want to get you in more trouble with the White House than you're probably already in.



COOPER: But, I mean, what do you -- how do you assess where the federal government is in all this and the White House?

CARVILLE: I just -- I don't think -- I don't care if the president calls Tony Hayward or not. I want him to call the attorney general and say, how's that criminal investigation -- you know, the criminal investigation, or what do we have on this civil thing?

It's to tell these people that we don't want to be jacked around anymore, period. And get Senator Boxer on the phone, get Congressman Markey on the phone and say, what can we do to help your committee be sure that you're not getting jacked around?

Just, again, my personal view is, is this country is being invaded. We ought to treat it that way. This is going to -- has the potential to destroy life as we know it in South Louisiana, all over the northern Gulf Coast, and, who knows, maybe if it gets in the Gulf Stream, the East Coast of the United States.

This is in a -- a thing of the first magnitude here. And call whoever you want, but get the attorney general, get everybody involved in this, the we're -- we're under assault.

COOPER: I should point out that I asked to have the number -- you know, for days now, CNN has been putting the number of gallons spilling out in the corner of their screen.

And I know it's dramatic to look at that thing. But that's just -- I mean, no one knows. I mean, the idea that we have some sort of handle on how much oil is leaking out is just a false notion. And, so, we have taken that thing off the screen.

I think it's more important you just see the actual oil flowing. That tells you what you need to know.

Doug, what do you make of -- of the way the Obama White House is -- and federal response by the Coast Guard is -- is going?

BRINKLEY: Well, I mean, there are three things, I mean, I think, big baskets, going on.

One is close that well, get the -- capture as much oil as you can, keep the pressure on BP on the relief wells. Second is immediate cleanup. And I think more can be done by the Obama administration. And I -- and but I think the big third piece is coming, when President Obama comes to Florida and Alabama and Mississippi, and that is holding BP responsible for the Natural Resource Damage Act, for the Oil Spill Response Act. And, by that, I mean BP is going to end up paying somewhere from $10 billion to $15 billion, maybe even $20 billion, because they're going -- one of the only ways to save the Louisiana wetlands is going to be -- you know, the Mississippi River has been channelized for navigation.

Well, now the Mississippi River has to be redirected. It's going to have to be flooded and sediment pumped into these marshlands to save it. I think the Obama administration...


COOPER: So, no, wait. No, wait. Doug, is this just a hope on your part?


COOPER: Or -- I mean, I know you have been talking to sources. Do you believe this is actually going to happen?


And it's one of the reasons why the president is not talking to Tony Hayward. And they are going to come out with a large Gulf recovery act, because the oil and gas industry has been dredging. We have disappearing barrier islands. For 40 years down there, it's abused the wetlands.

This is a turning point. There is an appetite on Capitol Hill for Gulf recovery act. The Mississippi River is going to have to be redirected into the marshlands. And BP and Transocean and other, you know, operations, Cameron, other companies are going to have to pay up to $10 billion and $15 billion for breaking national acts.


BRINKLEY: In addition, for offshore drilling in the Gulf, Anderson, there will be a conservation excise tax that, yes, there will be offshore drilling, but Louisianians will start getting some of the revenue to stay in state.

CARVILLE: If -- if the president does that, I will be the biggest supporter in the world. He will be beloved in Louisiana.

If he -- if he has a restoration act and the kind of things that Doug Brinkley is talking about, who Doug, by the way, lived here. His wife is from here. He knows exactly what he is talking about. If there is that kind of action from the White House and this president, he will go down, in my opinion, as one of the great presidents in history.

And I have not hesitated to criticize him. But if that kind of action is -- that -- that kind of thing starts to happen, that's going to be a very encouraging sign for South Louisiana, and for the country, too.

COOPER: Doug, I mean, what percent -- I mean, you -- you -- you're saying this based on people you have talked to?


And what is -- one of the reasons there's a frustration, because of the legalities of calling Tony Hayward and all, the -- the Obama administration has heard what's happening loud and clear. And you are going to have the full power of the administration going on the culpable parties.

All of these little articles start building up, the -- the one we talked about on the AP with the phony report about a -- they had their wildlife expert in 2009 for BP had actually died in 2005. Or, you know, it's just crazy stuff. It's all -- Markey and others are accumulating it.

Congress is going to go after BP, and they have now broken, as I said, National Resource Damage Act, Oil Spill Response Act. And in order to save the wetlands, which BP is responsible to, it's going to be -- the Army Corps of Engineers has directed -- if you fly over, it's like a bird's foot. There are three channels.

We're now going to have to redirect Mississippi River sediment and flood the marshlands to try to save them. That will occur after this -- the well gets capped, the relief wells are built. But, in the next year or two, this will be, for President Obama administration, I think something a Tennessee Valley Authority or a Saint Lawrence Seaway under Dwight Eisenhower, a major public works act, with BP...


BRINKLEY: ... the bill.

COOPER: I got to say, I was -- I was -- it was kind of sad today being out with the governor and the National Guard folks who are out there with these rudimentary vacuums literally sucking up oil.

And they only have five of them. And they have only taken this upon themselves. I mean, they're -- they're thinking outside the box.


COOPER: It doesn't seem like, on day 51, they should still be begging for nickels and dimes to be buying vacuum cleaners.

CARVILLE: But what it looks like is, we ought to just do things and then send them the bill, because if you say, can we do this, they are going to slow-walk him. OK?

They say, oh, gee, it's like, you go ask your daddy, hey, can I go out there? Well, ask your mother. No, go ask your daddy.

They will slow-walk the thing to death. Come up with a way to have the administration and have people say, look, these guys are going to do this, and you're going to pay for it, because they -- it's no doubt that they will slow -- well, oh, no, you can only have five, and you have got to go check with the Corps of Engineers, and you have got to go check with this person, and go -- go see the Interior Department, and go see the -- the Homeland Security.

And they have got to come up with a way to expedite this. And, by the way, if it takes an act of Congress, do then it. They went at 1:30 in the morning for Terri Schiavo. Then go in at 1:30 in the morning and change the act to save the entire Gulf Coast. I mean, move. Get -- let's get this thing done.

And I -- I can't say enough good about Congressman Markey and Senator Boxer and Senator Nelson and others, who are really putting the heat to get this out. It's a shame we had to wait this long. But we got something now. And if -- if the president is doing the things that Doug is talking about, this is going to be -- this is something we need desperately in Louisiana.


COOPER: James Carville, appreciate your time, Doug Brinkley as well. We will talk to you again.

We are here all this week, probably all next week, and who knows. I may start renting a place down here.

Up next: the people who say a company that made nearly $6 billion in the last quarter is nickel-and-diming them on money they promised them, money they need to -- to pay their mortgages, to pay the -- the notes on their boats.

Later: the fight over undersea clouds of oil. BP doubts their existence. A scientist we spoke to says a kid who is out of high school physics can tell they exist. Tom Foreman has the facts to help you cut through the claims and counterclaims about something that could be doing an awful lot of damage.

We will be right back. Stay with us.


COOPER: You know, we hear everywhere we go people with claims against BP, claims that the company keeps promising to pain in a timely fashion, and they say they are still waiting for checks.

They got President Obama's attention. They got Admiral Thad Allen's attention. He sent a letter which he made public today to BP CEO Tony Hayward, demanding -- quote -- "complete ongoing transparency" -- unquote -- from BP on the claims process.

Now, to that end, Admiral Allen is demanding access to BP's database of claims as soon as possible.

Now, it can't come soon enough down here.

Ed Lavandera is "Keeping Them Honest." (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

EILENE BOURGEOIS, BOURGEOIS CHARTERS: I'm having to fax this paperwork again and again.

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's 9:00 at night, and Eilene Bourgeois is angry. She's faxing another round of financial paperwork to the BP claims officer. She's done this over and over for 30 days, fighting for money from BP.

(on camera): Do you feel like they're dragging their feet?

E. BOURGEOIS: I'm not really sure exactly what they're trying to get, but I know that it's -- it's a long process, and entirely too long, because, next month, I don't know that I will be able to pay my house note, because I'm sitting here with no money, no help from BP.

THEOPHILE BOURGEOIS, CHARTER FISHERMAN: So, all this paperwork here, we have got to take it, copy it, send it in.

LAVANDERA: Eilene and her husband, Theophile own a lucrative charting fishing business on the Louisiana bayou south of New Orleans, but the fishing business has disappeared. They have received the initial $5,000 check from BP, but that doesn't begin to cover what they have lost.

He has had to lay off all 10 of his employees and he estimates that he has lost almost $300,000 in summer business. But the bills keep coming. Theophile Bourgeois says it costs almost $25,000 a month just to run the fishing lodge. BP, he says, is moving too slow, asking for detailed monthly financial statements dating back three years.

T. BOURGEOIS: So, right now, everything is on the table. What we're going to do is, we're going to help you out. We will do everything we can.

And it ain't working, meaning there's no payment received on the bayou yet. Mortgage is still coming, so the thing is, what do we do?

LAVANDERA: What do we do? It's a question you hear in nearly every marina and fishing village we visited: What do we do?

(on camera): BP says it has opened up some 39,000 claims across the Gulf Coast. And the company says it's also brought in some 531 adjusters to handle those claims. But that means each of those adjusters is handling almost 75 claims on their own. The manpower simply isn't enough to keep up.

(voice-over): BP says it has paid $48 million in claims already and vows to keep paying personal and business claims as long as the oil disaster keeps people out of work.

BOB FRYAR, SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT, BP: We will continue to be adding people, offices and resources as required, and we're committing the full resources of BP to make this process work for the people of Florida and for the other Gulf Coast states.

LAVANDERA: But it's not working for Eilene. The process is taking a stressful toll, and she worries the charter fishing business she and her husband have built the last 15 years might not survive the oil disaster.

E. BOURGEOIS: I don't want to lose my home, you know, or -- or anything, for that matter. But I know that, if we don't get some help soon, that we will definitely lose something.

LAVANDERA: At the Bourgeois Charter fishing lodge, the lights are out for the now.

T. BOURGEOIS: Turn out the lights, baby.

LAVANDERA: But these are rough times, and the hope is, they will come on tomorrow and in the days and years ahead.


COOPER: You know, we -- we would like to ask BP, you know, for their side of this, because it's easy to criticize. And, obviously, it's a very complex situation, judging what people should make.

What does BP say about -- about the holdup?

LAVANDERA: Well, they acknowledge they need to get more manpower on the ground. And you heard us mention there in the story that the claims are coming in so fast, though, that, every time they get more adjusters on the ground here -- we're doing the math on how many claims have been filed and how many adjusters they have.

It keeps working out to about the same. So, for every adjuster, based on our math, there's 75 people they have to deal with. So, everyone we talk to says, I have got to call in. It's taking days and days, if I ever hear back from them. And that's obviously what...


COOPER: For some, it's tough, because, you know, some of -- it's cash businesses, and, so, receipts are an issue. Tax receipts are an issue.

LAVANDERA: Right. It's -- you know, I think a lot of these people are coming to the realization that, says, look, I'm a fisherman.

COOPER: Right.

LAVANDERA: It's not like we have W-2 forms and all this kind of thing.

COOPER: Right.

LAVANDERA: It's going to be hard for them to prove what it is that they make in a given year, especially when it's -- this is where they make their money.


A couple weeks ago, Ed introduced us to a number of people whose livelihoods were in jeopardy because of the spill, people who were struggling just to pay the bills.

Buggie Vegas is one of them. He owns a marina in Grand Isle, Louisiana. He joins us now on the phone.

So, Buggie, when did you first put in a claim for your business? And have you gotten any updates from BP since you filed it?

BUGGIE VEGAS, MARINA OWNER, GRAND ISLE, LOUISIANA: We filed it about four weeks ago. And we -- we didn't hear nothing. We went back twice. And they said they put us in a large claim loss, and we still didn't hear nothing.

COOPER: What -- I mean, what's the impact been on you? I mean, how are you getting by?

VEGAS: Well, we're trying to get it to work. We're trying to switch over to (INAUDIBLE) which is something -- you know, but it's just not working right now.

And it's just -- it was -- if we don't get no -- no claim in, you know, it will be tough. We...

COOPER: Have you gotten -- I mean, I know -- I know a bunch of folks got, you know, a $5,000 check, and BP says they sent out another round of $5,000 checks.

I mean, can your business survive on a -- on a $5,000 check for a month?

VEGAS: No. When I walk outside, just trying to keep shelter (ph), it cost us $5,000. Today my wife said that we didn't get $5,000 personal. We didn't get $5,000 for the business but a personal check, $5,000. I wanted to frame it up and hang it in the marina. But she took that away from me. She said we need it.

COOPER: And what kind of stuff do you sell in the marina? I mean, just to get a sense of how affected and impacted your business is?

VEGAS: Well, we've got a tackle shop. We've had a tackle shop of 38 years. And since -- since the fishing closed, I mean, everything shut down. We didn't sell -- Memorial Day weekend, we didn't sell a round. I mean, that was -- nothing, no tackle.

COOPER: So what's -- I mean, when you look -- when you think about, you know, the next day? I mean, when you go to sleep at night, what goes through your mind?

VEGAS: I mean, some days are better than others. But I mean, when they shut that down, it just -- it just kills us. Everybody knows I'm here at 3 a.m. in the morning, ready to go in the morning. The workers are getting here before I was. You know, so it's just like a knife in your back or something. I don't think they understand, you know, what's going on. That's the problem.

COOPER: Buggie, by the way, you have the coolest name I've heard in a long time, Buggie Vegas.

VEGAS: Cooper is not bad. Cooper is not bad.

COOPER: It's not bad.


COOPER: It's no Buggie Vegas, though. Buggie, I look forward to meeting you. Sorry I didn't get to meet your daughter tonight. I look forward to meeting her later on in Grand Isle. I appreciate you being with us tonight, and I hope things work out for you quickly.

Ed Lavandera, as always, thanks so much, Ed.

Again, I just want to mention we invited BP executives to come on this program. We do this every night. Again, they said no, not for the first time, really. In case you've missed it, take a look.


COOPER: Three-sixty has repeatedly tried to get this guy, BP's chief CEO, Tony Hayward, onto the program. He's passed repeatedly. At this point, I want to invite anyone from BP on this program.

Every night for weeks we've invited BP to come on the program. Every night, they declined. After weeks of telling up "no thanks," BP tonight agreed to answer our questions.

We've been asking for a long time for somebody. We finally got somebody last night. I guess, I don't know, we didn't get him again tonight.

We should point out that we invited BP to be on this program today, but they declined.

The invitation stands. We interviewed a top official a couple days ago. We haven't heard from them since. For weeks now, literally weeks, we invited BP CEO Tony Hayward to come on 360. Again today, the answer was no. He does the morning shows. Maybe he doesn't want to stay up late.

Now, BP doesn't come on this program for some reason, though we invite them to every single night.

And as always, we invited BP executives to come on the program. We invite them every single night. Other than the one time they've shown up, they basically don't return our phone calls anymore.

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 early in the morning just to talk to him.

I invite anybody at BP or the government to, you know, inform the American public and the world, frankly, is watching right now what is occurring. And I can't understand a reason why they wouldn't.

As always, we invite him on this program. We invite any BP official on this program. They've yet to take up our invitation for the last several weeks.

As always, I should point out, we invited BP executives to come on the program again tonight. They, of course, said no.


COOPER: Again, we invite them on the program. As you saw there, BP did give us one interview, which we appreciated, one on May 19. We'll keep asking. We hope they change their mind. We'll be very fair. I don't yell or anything.

But the company's chief operating officer did speak to my colleague, John Roberts, today. We're going to bring you the interview with him ahead.


COOPER: So last night, BP released a statement saying that the data so far doesn't support the existence of those massive underwater plumes we've been hearing about for some time. Today, BP's chief operating officer, Doug Suttles, said it again, this time on camera. BP doesn't believe they exist.

Now scientists sure do. Tom Foreman is kind of our resident science teacher. He joins us with the facts. Who's right?

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the evidence says, Anderson, that probably the scientists are right in this case. I want you to look at something, and it's very interesting. If you believe their samples...

COOPER: Is that one of those newfangled iPads?

FOREMAN: Yes, one of the newfangled iPads.

If you believe the scientists' samples from the Gulf, their analysis, the federal government's endorsement of the results, and the laws of physics, the scientists are right about this.

Let me show you this thing on this iPad. Two experiments from the researchers at the University of North Carolina. In the first one here, if I roll it, you'll see this oil bubbling up in the little solution here, and it's going up to the top in little globules like this, and they're gathering at the top. So that's the normal behavior of oil coming out. But what if this oil is released quickly, under high pressure, the way it is out in the Gulf right now? Look at the picture as it changes here. When it's released quickly, what it can do is hit the water and basically break up into billions of little bits of oil and then get trapped between layers of water.

If you add dispersants, it may be even more likely. And there is your plume. It's floating in the water, a cloud of oil well below the surface.

COOPER: BP says it's not happening; there are no plumes. So I mean, if it's there on that little video, how can it not actually be there?

FOREMAN: Well, what they're going to say is that this is something of an argument that's based on terms over a word game.

Look, I have two liquids here in this container, one basically clear and one is sort of red down here, OK?

COOPER: Like a lava lamp.

FOREMAN: Exactly. Now, if I shake this really hard, if I get to shaking it hard enough, what will happen is the red liquid will become an emulsion.

COOPER: Want me to put this light up?

FOREMAN: Yes. Put that light on and let people see this. If you look at that closely, you can see that it all breaks up. Now, here's a question. Is there a large concentration of the red or the oil in any one place? No. Not a large concentration.

Is there something that looks like what we would call a plume? No, there's not. No. But the red liquid is still here. All that is there that we started with is just as much. The fair question here is not is there a plume or is there a large concentration but how much oil is there and how much danger does it pose?

COOPER: And how do we know that?

FOREMAN: Well, that's -- the only way we can do that is by having a sense of what the flow is.

COOPER: Right.

FOREMAN: Which is the very thing we don't know. Thad Allen, you know, said that -- the point man for the federal government here, has said because of this phenomenon, maybe we shouldn't call it a plume. Maybe we should use the term that we've been using on our show. I talked to you last week.

COOPER: Right.

FOREMAN: But we call it an oil cloud rather than a plume. Because we can't hang up on words. The reality is the oil is there. COOPER: But BP also says that - that a link cannot be drawn between -- between the underwater oil and their well.

FOREMAN: Yes. They say they can't do that. And they have something of a point there, that we haven't proven that. There's no direct link established. When the University of South Florida sampled water around the Gulf at different depths with this boat that went out there with these robots that go down.

Federal authorities agreed that some surface samples bore the chemical fingerprint of the BP oil. They agreed on that. Underwater samples, however, either did not show that or it wasn't clear that it showed that or maybe it came from another source, maybe another spill or natural oil.

But the scientists say, through all of this, don't forget this. They sampled in some of the same places last year, and they found no oil at depth. And this year, they're finding oil. Draw your own conclusions.

COOPER: All right. Tom, appreciate it. Thanks.

I'm wondering what you're going to come up with tomorrow night, like a science experiment. It's cool.

More on the oil disaster in a moment. But first, tonight's other important stories. Gary Tuchman has the "360 News & Business Bulletin" -- Gary.


Joran Van Der Sloot could be formally charged with the murder of a Peruvian woman as early as tomorrow. That's according to Peruvian officials who also say the reenactment of the crime may not take place because authorities could decide they already have enough evidence against Van Der Sloot.

A judge in Arizona has dismissed all charges of sexual misconduct against Warren Jeffs, because the two alleged victims no longer want to testify, according to prosecutors. In 2007, the polygamist leader was convicted of rape as an accomplice and sentenced to ten years to life in prison in Utah. Jeffs also faces sex charges in Texas.

A caution from the chairman of the Federal Reserve. Ben Bernanke told Washington lawmakers that it will take a significant amount of time to restore lost jobs. He says the U.S. economy should be able to withstand the European debt crisis.

And an open mike caught newly-minted California Republican Senate candidate Carly Fiorina, on the left, trashing her rival, Senator Barbara Boxer, on the right. Here's Fiorina quoting a friend.


CARLY FIORINA (R), CALIFORNIA SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: Louder saw Barbara Boxer briefly on television this morning and said what everyone says, God, what is that hair? So, yesterday -- you didn't...


TUCHMAN: She realized then she had that open mike.

That's my reoccurring nightmare, Anderson, that I'll say something nasty about someone and forget that I have that mike open on my lapel.

COOPER: You never said anything nasty about anyone, Gary. I know that.

Gary, thanks.

Up next, he will not come on the program, but BP's chief operating officer did give an interview to CNN's John Roberts. John is here to tell us what he said.

Also ahead, our exclusive interview with some of the wives of the rig disaster survivors and what they think about BP.


MECCAH BOYNTON-BROWN, WIFE OF BP EXPLOSION SURVIVOR: When you think of BP and Transocean, I just feel like they don't care. Nobody stepped up to say, "Are you OK? What can we do to help you?"



COOPER: Well, this is our third week here in the Gulf, to keep you informed and try to hold BP's feet to the fire, as well as public officials. We've been reporting we've repeatedly tried to get the CEO, Tony Hayward, on 360. He's apparently not interested. So we're now basically reaching out to and trying to anyone at BP to come on the program and talk to us. So far no takers.

But BP today did grant my colleague, John Roberts, an interview with its chief operating officer, Doug Suttles. John just got back. He joins me now.

How did it go?

JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: Anderson, it went really we. We basically -- we spent the afternoon with Doug Suttles. He took us out to the area where the action happened. We went out to DD3, the development driller three, which is the rig that's drilling the very first relief well. Got a look around; got to talk to some of the folks. Talked with Suttles extensively.

I can tell you, first of all, talking about what you and Tom Foreman were discussing a little while ago. Suttles does agree that there is oil in the water. It is as Tom was saying, though, a definition what is a plume? Are there large strings or oil, or is there evidence there are outer croppings from this well that are dispersed within the water column.

And on that point, he says, yes, indeed, there are. But he tries to dissuade us from this notion that there are large strings or, quote, plumes of oil throughout the water.

I know that yesterday, you were also talking at length about this new HD video...

COOPER: Right.

ROBERTS: That was just released a couple of days after the riser was cut. Very high quality video, all of that oil and gas blowing at the top of the blowout preventer. And why it took BP so long to release that video. But when we were aboard the DD3 today, I asked Suttles why it was that it took days to release that video. Here's what he told me.


ROBERTS: The question that's asked in the past 24 hours is why it took so long for BP to release those high-definition pictures of the sheared-off riser from the top of the blowout preventer? Can you explain why? Our understanding is, it wasn't until the government actually asked for that video that you released it.

DOUG SUTTLES, BP COO: Well, the challenge we have is you can see these big vessels right here. That's -- that's what actually has the -- that runs these robotic submarines. They actually capture that data right there. So we don't -- the high-definition videos are not on shore. We actually beam lower definition to shore. The high definition stuff is captured on DVDs here. So we actually have to fly those in and get those to people.

But I can tell you since very early on, and it will be -- I can't remember the exact date, day three or day four, everyone associated with this event, all the government groups, all the VP and industry folks were able to see all the videos from these -- these remote vehicles we're operating.


ROBERTS: Now, Admiral Thad Allen, the national incident commander, said, yes, indeed, they did have access to the videos, if and when they wanted them.

But I should mention that this idea that it took so many days to get the videos off of the boats. All I can say is that there are helicopters going out to all those rigs, all those boats every day.

COOPER: Every single day?

ROBERTS: Every single day. If somebody wanted to put a video on-board one of those helicopters and sent it back, they certainly could have. In other words, when we dropped down in the DD3, we had to wait for a helicopter that was already there to lift off. But it was fascinating, though, being out on that rig. Talking to people from Transocean. Because it's so easy when you look at this through the prism of distance to say, well, on the one hand, you've got the fishermen and you've got the tourism industry, and you've got the ecology and the environment.

And on the other hand, you've the big, bad oil industry. I can tell you all of those people that I talked to on the rig today from Transocean, who are down 13,000 feet now with that relief well, digging down basically five miles to hit something this big to try to kill that well, their hearts are really in it. Many of them are local people. They live along the Gulf. They don't want to see this whole place messed up. And so they are making a point of both pride and duty to try to hit that kill well in the first shot.

COOPER: And my point all along has been, one, BP is doing a disservice to those people by not allowing them to tell their stories and by not allowing media more access onto this rig except, you know, very -- just very occasionally.

And to Doug Suttles' point, I mean, it's not a question of, like, the media not seeing these pictures. I mean, the fact that one of flow-rate scientists, Ira Leifer (ph), who I interviewed yesterday, just didn't get this high-resolution video until yesterday, and this is the man who the government has asked to determine the flow rate which is affecting, you know, all of the people here.

I mean, his answer is a little -- seems disingenuous to say, "Well, we provided it to plenty of people." The didn't provide it to one of the guys on the flow-rate team and, theoretically, the other people on the flow-rate team.

ROBERTS: The people who do study the science and particle velosymmetry (ph) can look at that.

COOPER: Right. And you need an accurate picture.

ROBERTS: And get a pretty good assessment at the amount of oil that's coming out of there.

COOPER: I look forward to more of the interview tomorrow morning. John, thanks.

ROBERTS: Good to see you.

COOPER: You can get a little sleep, at least. Long day.

You can see the rest of John's interview with Doug Suttles tomorrow on "AMERICAN MORNING," starting at 6 a.m. Eastern Time.

Coming up next on the program, the wives of some of the survivors of the Deepwater Horizon explosion.


COOPER: All this week, we've been bringing you our exclusive interviews with a group of survivors from the Deepwater Horizon rig. In our candid and emotional conversation, we're learning details about what exactly happened on the doomed rig back on April 20.

The crews suffered. So did their families. We sat down with the wives of three of the survivors, who were telling us about the fear and not knowing for hours if their husbands were alive or dead.

It's an exclusive interview, a partnership between the CNN special investigations unit and 360.


COOPER (voice-over): It was just dawn, about 5:45 when the phone awoke Angela Hopkins Jacobs. She didn't know that eight hours earlier, 50 miles out in the Gulf, the Deepwater Horizon had exploded. Her husband, Matt, worked on the rig.

ANGELA HOPKINS-JACOBS, WIFE OF BP EXPLOSION SURVIVOR: The lady said, "This is so-and-so with Transocean." And I lost it, because I knew something was wrong. And she said that, "We've had to evacuate the rig."

And I was hysterical. I said, "Is he OK? Is he OK?"

She said, "I don't know any details. I can't tell you anything."

I just lost it. My son, you know, was asking, "What's wrong? What's wrong?" And I said -- I couldn't, you know, speak.

COOPER: As the platform fire raged, Matt was waiting to be lowered from the rig in a lifeboat. The inferno, the damage so intense, he was certain he wouldn't make it out alive.

MATT JACOBS, BP EXPLOSION SURVIVOR: I prayed for my family, to let God know that I love my wife and I love my kids, that he would help me and everybody else get off the rig safely. And the whole time, you know, it's going through my mind, I'm never going to see my family again, you know, because this is it. You know, we're -- we're done.

COOPER (on camera): You were sure that was it for you?

JACOBS: Yes, sir.

HOPKINS-JACOBS: I had started calling hospitals down in Louisiana, Alabama, because I heard on the news that they were taking some of the injured to the hospitals there. They had no record of him being at a hospital. So, you know, at that time, I'm thinking, well, he's not injured. I don't know if he's dead.

COOPER: That same morning, no one from the company had contacted Daniel Barron's wife, Amanda. She hadn't heard about the catastrophe, and then her brother called.

AMANDA COOPER-BARRON, WIFE OF BP OIL RIG SURVIVOR: He just goes, "What rig does Dan work on again?" And I said, "Deepwater Horizon. Why?"

He goes, "I thought it sounded too familiar."

And I'm like, "Well, why do you need to know? What's going on?"

And he goes, "His rig has exploded."

BARRON: Can you imagine what our wives were going through? She didn't get a call until 2 p.m. that afternoon. And basically, there's like, "Hey, this is Transocean. We want to let you know that your husband's on the boat."

And she's like, "Oh, my God, you know, what happened?"

"That's all we can tell you. We just want to let you know he's on the boat."

So he doesn't know if I'm hurt, injured, burned. She doesn't know anything.

COOPER: Doug Brown's wife, Meccah, did get a call in the middle of the night.

BOYNTON-BROWN: I was told he was injured. There was really no other information that was given at the time. I was told that he was going to be taken to a hospital. But not knowing what hospital and what state. And nobody contacting me, telling me where he was going.

And so I really upset a lot of emergency rooms in the south, calling hospital after hospital after hospital for hours, trying to figure out where my husband was.

BROWN: I had fractured my leg and bruised some nerves, did some damage under my kneecap and pulled some ligaments as well as some mild brain injury.

COOPER: That afternoon, after a desperate morning on the phone, trying to find Doug, Meccah got another call from Transocean.

BOYNTON-BROWN: I did receive a very rehearsed -- I would probably put that -- that's my best term for it, very rehearsed -- "There was an incident. We have no further information at this time. We'll call you when we know something else." Click.

COOPER (voice-over): All three wives say Transocean seemed totally unprepared, just not able to handle a crisis the size of the Deepwater Horizon.

BOYNTON-BROWN: I don't think the men and women that are out on rigs currently are really ultimately safe. And to ask my husband to go back out there, I'd rather work five part-time jobs to make ends meet than to ask him to put his life on the line.