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How Large Is Gulf Oil Spill?; Interview With Florida Senator Bill Nelson

Aired June 10, 2010 - 22:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening again from Louisiana.

Even though we knew it was coming, the numbers are still shocking to hear. Just a few hours ago, the federal government raised its official estimate of how much oil has been gushing into the Gulf for weeks now.

They now estimate 20,000 to 40,000 barrels are spewing out every single day, 20,000 to 40,000. Now, that's double the estimate they made just a few weeks ago, four to eight times the estimate they made a few weeks before that, and 20 to 40 times larger than BP's original estimate.

And even this new estimate may be very low, according to scientists working for the government to analyze the actual flow rate. They will likely have a new estimate tomorrow or maybe early next week.

What does BP say about this new estimate? And how do they explain their ridiculously low estimates early on? Well, here's the statement they made today -- and I quote -- "BP fully supported this effort, providing the scientific team with data, including a considerable amount of high-resolution video. We have made no estimate of the flow rate ourselves."

Now, let's just look at this statement for a moment. They say they fully supported the effort to measure the flow rate. Let those three words just sink in for a bit: BP fully supported.

Does fully supported mean not releasing underwater video of the leak for weeks, until the government lawmakers forced them to? Because that's what happened. And when they did release that video, it was only a 30-second clip. Does fully supported mean withholding high- resolution H.D. video from at least one of those scientists and Congress and the public until a few days ago? Because that's also what happened.

Does fully supported mean not allowing scientists working for the government to actually directly measure the gusher of oil? Because that is still happening right now.

Now, in that statement, BP also said -- quote -- "We have made no estimate of the flow rate ourselves." Now, you can interpret that two ways. They could mean, we have never bothered to try to measure the flow rate. And that's absolutely true -- true. But why they have never bothered to do that is hard to comprehend -- comprehend. I mean, how do you know how to put out a fire unless you know how big the fire is? But they could also have meant by that statement that they have never committed themselves to claiming to know the flow rate, that they have never pretended to know the actual flow rate. And that is simply not true.

Keep in mind, here are just a few examples of them estimating the flow rate.


DOUG SUTTLES, COO, GLOBAL EXPLORATION, BP: We think that the range has increased of what the estimate has been. So, I think that somewhere between 1,000 and 5,000 barrels a day is probably the best estimate we have today.

JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: You're sticking with approximately 5,000 barrels a day?

SUTTLES: I think that's a good range. I don't know the precise number, but I think it is somewhere around that number. And that's been both our estimate and that of the unified command, the government agencies we're working with.

The 5,000 barrels a day, we have always said it was -- it was an estimate all of us came together to make. We have always said it is highly, highly uncertain.

COOPER: Your company continues and the government continues to use this 5,000-barrels-a-day figure, which is really a three-week old estimate made from satellite images by NOAA. Why are you still using that figure?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because it looks like the best estimate from the surface response and the plume that we see at the base of the well itself.


COOPER: Well, it sounds like they have been pretty insistent on giving out very public and very low estimates of the flow rate, even after the independent scientists said the real rate was much, much higher.

By the way, that's the one interview I have ever been allowed to do with a BP official. After that interview, they have never talked to me again.

By the way, shortly after releasing that statement, BP re-released it. Only, this time, they erased the last sentence, claiming they have made no estimate of the flow rate ourselves. So, they cut that sentence out.

So, in addition to putting out one statement that pretty much airbrushes history, they then put out a second statement which airbrushed the first statement. Tonight, and always, we're "Keeping Them Honest." And we have a lot to cover and uncover tonight, James Carville on why he believes the government is still not treating this with more urgency. We're going to hear from the people who lost loved ones on the Deepwater Horizon who met with President Obama today. Some of them say they have not heard a single call from BP, not a call of sympathy, not even a card.

We're also going to dig deep into BP's safety record, though, frankly, we didn't have to dig much to come up with several red flags. And we will show you the ways that reporters are now being blocked from showing you pictures of oiled birds being brought in.

Oh, and remember the letter that we got yesterday, BP claiming they have never told their employees they can't speak to reporters? Well, today, we put that claim to the test.

We begin, though, with one of the members of the government's flow rate team, a scientist right now working round the clock to come up with an accurate estimate of exactly how much oil is flowing, a scientist who told us days ago he had only just received the high- resolution H.D. pictures of the leaking well and who says BP has not been forthcoming with information and critical data for a long time. We spoke earlier tonight.


COOPER: Professor Leifer, did you ever believe the numbers that BP was putting out early on, the -- the 1,000-barrels-a-day figure, even the 5,000-barrel-a-day figure?

IRA LEIFER, UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, SANTA BARBARA: Neither of those figures ever seemed realistic, especially from looking at how the oil spread over the sea surface so rapidly and into such an extensive area. Those numbers were clearly lowballs, significant lowballs.

COOPER: Do you think BP believed those numbers?

LEIFER: It is hard for me to know what BP believes or not. On the other hand, since they're not realistic, if they believed them, they were just believing in a dream.

COOPER: I mean, has BP made it easy for you to study this leak? You're still in the process of analyzing video, of trying to study this leak. Have they given you the access that you need?

LEIFER: They -- they have -- until very recently, they were extremely obstructionist, making it very difficult, if not impossible, for us to do our work.

COOPER: Why do you think they have made it difficult for you to do your work? I mean, you were tasked by the U.S. government to get accurate numbers. And -- and now the U.S. government is saying this is the most important thing, to know size of this leak.

LEIFER: It's -- it's a good question. And -- and I think it doesn't make a lot of sense. What I really wish BP would understand is that having good numbers is in their interests, too, because, so far, to date, they have been trying solution after solution, and they have been failing one after a number -- after another. And I think one of the reasons why is that no one really knows how much oil is coming out. And so things have been playing dice that we won't have another catastrophe on our hands.

COOPER: You would like to be able to directly measure the flow rate, you know, actually put instruments down there to try to actually measure the rate. Is BP -- they're not allowing that. Do you know why?

LEIFER: I mean, I -- I have to assume that, after this many weeks, the reason underlying is, they don't really want anyone to know what the numbers are.

However, if they don't know the numbers, then how do they know that their relief wells will not make things worse, possibly much worse? Even the video analysis that we have, we have to make assumptions. We can't see into the plume. We don't know what is inside that oily plume.

If we actually could make measurements, we would know. We wouldn't be guessing. And BP has gotten into this problem because they did not do things safely. And I think this is just another example of them not using, following the proper procedure, so that the efforts to stop this horrible incident are done in a safe manner.

COOPER: Congressman Markey has written them asking them to allow you to directly measure. You have -- you're probably going to have new numbers coming out in the next couple of days.

And, in the past, you have said, I mean, this could be much higher. Right now, these numbers of up to 40,000 barrels, it -- it could be way more than that, correct?

LEIFER: The -- I -- I can't really talk about the video that we're analyzing.

But what I can talk about what I see streaming, for example, on CNN right now on your feed, they're capturing 18,000 barrels, and the plume looks more or less the same as before they started capturing the oil.

So, clearly, there is a lot more oil coming out of this leak at this moment. And I would like to point out that, even if the number today was 50,000 or whatever, there is no guarantee tomorrow it would not be something worse. It -- this is a moving target.

COOPER: Professor Leifer, I appreciate your time. Thank you.

LEIFER: Thank you very much.


COOPER: Again, it is important to remember, Professor Leifer is not just some guy we put on TV. It's not somebody who is just kind of watching this casually.

This is the man tasked by the U.S. government, one of many scientists, to actually study the flow rate. And he is just getting high- resolution H.D. video of this. I mean, this is day 52 we're talking about. This is critical information, important to hundreds of thousands of people, watched by people around the world.

And he says he -- he -- that BP has not been giving him the information for -- for weeks now that -- that he and other scientists need.

President Obama coming down here next Monday and Tuesday, not to Louisiana, but to other states, Alabama, Mississippi, and -- and Florida. Mr. Obama has invited top BP officials, including the company's chairman, Carl-Henric Svanberg, to the White House on Wednesday.

A sense of urgency seems to be growing in Washington, though people down here are still less than happy about the sense of urgency here in the Gulf.

James Carville and I talked about that and the new higher flow numbers just released earlier. This -- we taped this a few hours ago, during daytime.


COOPER: So, now this flow rate group has come out with a -- with a higher estimate. It is not a surprise to you.

I remember, when I told you the -- the new estimate was 12,000 to 19,000 weeks ago, you said, and it's going to go higher still.

It's still going to go higher, because, I mean, there is this other flow rate group which -- which says it could be as high as 100,000, and they're still crunching the numbers.

JAMES CARVILLE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. And BP estimated 100,000 at the time of eruption.

Look, we're going to be here for 5K, or Katrina 5, as we call it, on August 29. They say the relief wells will be drilled by then. Look it, it's not. And -- and that really -- and -- and what the president needs to do, it really hurts the -- the people's trust, it hurts the credibility when they say this or the government puts this out.

They need to be very, very careful that people are getting accurate information, because the government is all that we have to look to. It is our sort of -- supposed to be out to protect us and to handle this. And this constant revision of the numbers, I mean, BP has no credibility. But it is hurting the government's credibility. And that's exactly what we don't need now.

COOPER: And to have NOAA and Thad Allen, frankly, with the Coast Guard, early on, saying, look, it doesn't -- you know, the actual -- it doesn't matter to measure it, it doesn't matter the actual number, because we're -- we're planning for a worst-case scenario, that is just clearly not the case.

CARVILLE: Well, how...


COOPER: If they're still flying in boom, and they don't have enough, you know, equipment out there to take more than 15,000 gallons -- barrels a day, they don't have -- they haven't planned for the worst- case scenario.

CARVILLE: This -- my opinion is, we're being invaded by this oil. So, you're in a war. You're going to tell me that it doesn't matter how many of the enemy there are? You don't want your intelligence...

COOPER: Right.

CARVILLE: ... to say, well, look, there's 100,000 on the other side of the hill or there's 50,000. Of course we need to know that.

But it also goes to the credibility. And then NOAA came out with some 5,000 number. God knows where they got that...


COOPER: That was based just on -- on -- from a group in Seattle just looked -- from NOAA just looking at this surface oil early on.


COOPER: And they stuck to that figure, even when independent scientists came out and said...



COOPER: ... just looking at the -- the video that they were forced to reveal, it is 70,000.

CARVILLE: And -- and -- and I hate to say this, but it's true. We were here last week. And a NOAA ship, the Thomas Jefferson, was docked up here in the French Quarter for two or three days. But why aren't you out there in the Gulf? The Enterprise wasn't docked at Pearl Harbor as soon as -- they headed out in the Pacific.

COOPER: You really view this as a war...


COOPER: ... that the United States is being attacked?


COOPER: A lot of people, when they hear these numbers, they assume that, OK, well, these -- these scientists, independent scientists who have been asked by the government, various teams, to look at this flow rate, they must be doing direct measurements. They must be down there actually measuring the oil. They must have permission from BP to do that.


COOPER: They don't. In fact, they have tried. They have asked to directly measure, which is the only way you can actually get accurate.

What they have been taking measurements from, beyond just what's on the surface, is the videos that we have been watching on television, video -- and the high-definition stuff, they didn't get -- one of the scientists I talked to didn't get to see it until everybody else got to see it.

CARVILLE: And, you know, if it wouldn't be for Senator Boxer, if Senator Nelson -- or it wouldn't have been for Congressman Markey, we wouldn't even be seeing this.

And I have got to say this. The minority, the House Republican leader, John Boehner, says there's too many hearings? He has spent too much time under a tanning light, man. We're not having enough hearings. That's the only way that we're getting the information that we get.

And I -- Senator Boxer is coming down here. And the administration -- how can BP -- this is -- our coastline is being invaded by this, Anderson. Think about this. And we -- we tell BP, our scientists are going to be with -- with the measurements that they need to take to know how much of this is coming.

I don't understand for the life of me how we're not doing that. And if we don't have the power to do that under the act, then change the act. It is just a stupid act of Congress. It can be changed instantly.

Call them in. Do something, man. But -- but the idea that you have this coming out, and they still -- they're -- they're so lawyered up, they don't know what to do. And somebody has got to take a bat and beat these people over the head.

COOPER: It's interesting, because now Thad Allen, who is in charge down here, technically, says this is a huge priority, to know what the flow rate, I mean, which is, A., a change of tune on his part.

But, if that is such a huge priority, the fact the that scientists do not have direct access and do not even get the videos when they need them in order to be able to do this analysis, and this new figure is the -- is the figure prior to the cap operation...


COOPER: ... in which we now know it is anywhere from 20 percent more to upwards of multiples of that.

CARVILLE: Yes. I mean, people will look at this and they will say, they're really capping it. And, apparently, they're capturing -- get this -- they don't have -- the vessel can't get all the oil that they are capturing. Well, go commandeer one and put it out there. Send the Navy there. Board a vessel. Take it out there. Then settle the thing in court in a year or two.

COOPER: Right. They -- they're saying they're capturing 15,000 barrels, which is the first time BP has ever admitted that it is possible 15,000 barrels is actually coming out.

CARVILLE: Right. This is only 1,000 -- first, we were told it was 1,000.


COOPER: Right.


COOPER: And even when NOAA -- I mean, I hate to harp on this, but even when NOAA came up with the 5,000 figure, Doug Suttles, the COO of BP, was sticking to the 1,000 figure.


COOPER: We are going to have more from James Carville shortly.

Let us know what you think. The live chat is up and running at

Up next: the people trying to get the story down here. BP promised full cooperation. Remember that? We read you the letter from last night. Are they actually living up to their word? Well, we put them to the test today. We're "Keeping Them Honest."

Also ahead tonight: families of the 11 fallen workers and their encounters, or lack of encounters, with BP.


SHERRI REVETTE, WIFE OF DEEPWATER HORIZON EXPLOSION VICTIM: There's been no communication between BP and myself.

COOPER: Wait. Wait a minute. They haven't -- they haven't called you? They haven't sent you a card?

REVETTE: No, no phone call, nothing.



COOPER: So, James Carville was just getting warmed up. We went to -- we went to break. We're going to have more from him shortly. But I just want to a little bit talk about transparency and the trouble that -- that a lot of us reporters are having down here covering this story. In just the last couple of days, CNN's Jim Acosta and I both, in separate instances, have been prevented by federal wildlife officials from photographing birds covered in oil being brought ashore.

Now, the wildlife official said to me that it was to protect birds. And they actually now have this area where the birds come in roped off and guarded by National Guard troops.

Jim Acosta actually had a run-in with one of the troops, getting in the reporter's face. Watch.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm going to have to ask you to stop taking pictures...


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We said -- they said we could do it, as long as we didn't cross the yellow line.


COOPER: There is this yellow line up there. And they literally will not get you within 20 to 30 feet, where you can actually get a picture of an oiled bird being brought in.

Why? They say they don't want to upset the birds, and they don't want to interfere with workers. But, I mean, I can assure you, one cameraman is a trained professional at CNN, and they're not going to interfere with workers.

As -- as for BP, they have promised transparency on a number of occasions. Most recently was a letter that we just obtained yesterday. It was actually sent out a couple days ago. And, in the letter -- it is from BP Doug -- COO Doug Suttles -- they say -- quote -- "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."

That's from, as I said, BP's Doug Suttles to company employees and contractors. Now, the "has not" part, that they haven't done this, is patently false. I mean, that's a rewriting of history. Many reporters from many news organizations over many weeks have been blocked and stiff-armed and given the silent treatment or told flat- out, BP said we would lose our jobs if we talked.

And this isn't just one news organization. This has been going on for weeks. As for the "will" not part, that they're not going to prevent anyone from cooperating with the media, well, maybe not everyone has gotten the memo. We put it to the test today.

Tom Foreman is "Keeping Them Honest." (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So, here it is, the end of the workday out here on Grand Isle.

These are the workers who have been working out here all day, loading up to call it a day. We made a point to come out here to the beach on Grand Isle right at quitting time for the workers who are handling the cleanup, because we didn't want to interfere with their work or be accused of interfering with their work.

And, when we first showed up, security forces said, no, you cannot take their pictures. That's forbidden. And we said, why not? It is a free beach. It's a free country. After a while, they relented on that.

But then they said, you cannot talk to the workers on the beach. We said, BP specifically issued a statement that workers were free to talk. And the security guards guarding these workers said, we have been told to not let the media speak to anybody who is working on this beach, nor let the workers talk to them.

When we tried to talk to the workers as they were leaving the beach, when we had been told their work was done, we were still being ordered by the security guards to leave them alone, to stay away from them.

FOREMAN: Can I talk to about the work out here at all?

Is it part of your contract that guys can't talk to us, or can you tell me anything? No comment?

Can I ask you a question? Are you on part of the work crew? You don't -- you don't want to talk about anything? Are you -- have you been told you can't talk?

And another one won't talk.

Hi, can I ask you a question or two out here? You look like a guy in -- you look like a guy who is in charge, though.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My only response to you can be, we're here in support of the mission to clean up the oil. And that's it.

FOREMAN: But you can't -- nobody here can talk?


FOREMAN: Why not?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm only here to support the cleanup mission. You need to speak to somebody...


FOREMAN: I mean, is like BP is your employer?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm only here in support of the cleanup mission. Sir, you're going to have to...

FOREMAN: No, no, what I'm asking is...


FOREMAN: ... BP said that everybody could feel free to talk. They specifically said everybody could feel free to talk. And everybody out here says they can't do it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: BP didn't tell me that, OK? And all I can tell is that you we're here in support of the cleanup mission. And that's all.

FOREMAN: OK. So, nobody here can talk?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, sir. No, sir. (INAUDIBLE) cannot. All right?


FOREMAN: Why do you suppose that is?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don't know. You have to go ask BP, not me.



FOREMAN: Thank you.


COOPER: So, I -- I mean, not everyone, I guess, got this new memo that was put out.

FOREMAN: Apparently not, no.


FOREMAN: We tried to talk to -- I'm not kidding, Anderson. We must have tried to talk at least 30 different people, in groups, individuals. I tried to talk to people away from the camera to say, look, there's no camera, no anything. Just talk to me.

COOPER: Right.

FOREMAN: And it was -- I have been doing this for more than 30 years.

COOPER: Right.

FOREMAN: I have never seen so many people across the board, we cannot talk.

COOPER: Right.

FOREMAN: And security guards, they're... COOPER: Private security guards hired by BP.

FOREMAN: Private security -- well, hired by someone. I mean, here's the weird part about this, Anderson. There are all these people out here working. And when you say to them, can you talk to me? No. Did someone tell you not to?


FOREMAN: I can't tell you. Who do you work for? I can't tell you. How are you in charge? I can't tell you.

COOPER: What -- what I found -- what I found so stunning, though, about this bird incident that Jim Acosta had and that I had is, these were federal wildlife officials. I mean, this was not even BP.


COOPER: I have two -- two -- two sources who are involved in this effort who won't speak on camera, but they have told me, look, we will be fired if we say anything publicly.

But they say, at least on this bird effort, that, you know, there is a huge bureaucracy involved, that, in every boat to go on the birds, you have to have a state wildlife official, you have to have a federal wildlife official. You have -- BP contractor, person involved in bird rescue.

And it is slowing operations down.

FOREMAN: Which is exactly...


COOPER: All these people have problems and want to talk.


COOPER: But -- but they -- they're -- a lot of people are afraid about getting fired.

FOREMAN: And all these local people are saying that that's why birds are dying.


FOREMAN: But I do know this. Earlier today, John Roberts was out at the same place. He talked to BP officials after being out there and getting the same treatment. And they said, we will clean it up.

I'll tell you, by the end of today, it is not cleaned up. It is still the same way.

COOPER: Yes, Tom, appreciate it. Thank you.

Digging deeper now, James Carville had plenty to say about BP and transparency. Here's more of our conversation.


COOPER: Eleven people are dead.


COOPER: And -- and hundreds of thousands of people are having their lives forever changed.

CARVILLE: Forever changed. But, also, an entire -- an entire culture is at risk.

This -- and this is something that a lot of people don't understand. This is very, very different. This is not what you think of if you think of your typical Southern culture, like, you know, in Mississippi, with which we're both familiar.

This is entirely different. It's a way of life. And it sustains tens of millions of other people. It's the most-productive high-quality seafood area in the world. And -- you know, and when this is happening and people say, man, you look like you're mad on TV, I'm not so much mad. I'm like, I want to do something. I feel like that -- that -- that no one understands the gravity of the situation here.

And -- and some people are just slow on the uptake. And I don't -- you know, when it is all written, I'm just curious as to how all this happened. And BP doesn't even -- why do we even report what they say? What they say doesn't matter.

They just say -- they have got lying lawyers telling lying corporate people what to say. They're -- they're -- they're irrelevant in terms of anything that they say as to the flow rate, anything that they say as to the timeline that they're going to do something.

Anything that these local people will tell you is that every claim they try to -- they do this. That's what they do. They're incapable of doing anything else. It is their nature to lie. That's just what they do. That can't be helped.

COOPER: They have no desire, it seems, for transparency, despite their public comments...


CARVILLE: No. No. They're keeping our reporters out.

In other words, if -- if -- let's just assume, on the off-chance that I'm right it's a war. Well, this is one war where it doesn't matter if the enemy knows what we're doing. It is just stupid oil. It's not like it -- you can tell the oil that we know how much of you are coming out. It doesn't matter. They can't doctor it.

It is -- it's really amazing. And it is -- it's -- and people are very, very, very -- that they're apprehensive. They're tense. And this thing just keeps going, and every piece of information they get is worse than the information they got the day before.

And you really can't blame them for feeling like they do. It is -- it's a totally understandable -- I know I feel -- just forget being a CNN contributor, or forget, like, being a guy -- I feel helpless, too. I feel the same thing that the guy on the street feels.

COOPER: Well, when one is -- when one is so blatantly lied to and -- and, you know, have the truth just hidden time after time after time, it is hard not to -- to feel that way.

CARVILLE: Well, it is. And it is important that our government step in and -- and make some real change, fundamental changes.

And if the president, you know, if he wants to emote, I'm not one of these guys -- I have never said any of that. But, I mean, he ought to be angry that his people, the people that -- that he is charged with the responsibility of -- of defending, are being lied to.

And -- and, actually, he is being lied to, too. And I -- and I think this president is a smart man. I think he -- he wants to help us, but he has got to get better people giving him better information.

COOPER: Well, James Carville, appreciate it.


CARVILLE: Thank you.


COOPER: Well, the oil now hitting Florida -- Senator Bill Nelson joins us, not happy with the federal government, or, frankly, of course, for that matter, BP.

Later: investigating BP's safety record. The company says it puts safety first. See what the facts say.


COOPER: We're talking about transparency from BP and communication from the federal government.

Florida Senator Bill Nelson is angry about both. I spoke to him earlier today about officials apparently not giving the word that oil had actually hit Florida's coastal -- coast and BP not coming clean. Take a look.


COOPER: I want to talk to you about the lack of transparency that we have been seeing all across the board now for 52 days now from BP.

You know, what a lot of people may not realize is, we only began to see the video images of -- of the underwater leak because you and other folks on Capitol Hill insisted that BP release those video images. And, even then, they only initially released a 30-second clip.

What is going on with BP? What - what do they not understand about the word transparency?

SEN. BILL NELSON (D), FLORIDA: You know, that's exactly right. If we need to know for trying to clean up the gulf and protect marine life, how much oil is in there, then we need the clear pictures, and we need all the streaming video in order to let the scientists calculate how much oil is out there.

COOPER: When did you learn that there was high definition video? Because I - I talked to Congressman Markey, I guess it was two days ago, when - when it was finally released, and said he'd only learned about it that day in the newspaper.

And - and I talked to a scientist from the Flow Rate Commission, and he had only received those images on that day, and this is a scientist who's tasked by the government with actually coming up with the accurate figures, who needs that video. So when did you learn about the video, or first see it?

NELSON: Senator Boxer and I learned the same time as Congressman Markey. We saw it in the paper.

COOPER: I want to play you just something that the COO of BP, Doug Suttles, said to our John Roberts yesterday.

They refused to come on my program. They refused now for, I don't know, probably about three weeks or so. Every night we ask them, they - they don't return our phone calls at this point.

But I want to play you something that he'd said to John Roberts about the - the giving out of this video. Listen.


DOUG SUTTLES, CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER, BP: What I can tell you, since very early on, and it will be - I can't remember the exact day, day three, day four - everyone associated with this, all the government groups, all the BP and industry folks, were able to see all the videos from these - these remote vehicles (INAUDIBLE).


COOPER: He said all the - the government groups, BP people and industry people were able to see that video from like day three or day four. He's talking about, I guess, just the regular video. That just doesn't simply seem to be - that - that just is not true, right?

NELSON: That doesn't line up with the facts.

COOPER: So when the Obama White House says, we're in charge, you say, not enough?

NELSON: They're certainly not in charge when the communication is not going to our emergency operations center in Pensacola, when oil is coming into Florida waters. They're certainly not in control when I ask a week ago, how many boats are out there helping protect our shores, and within the span of an hour and a half, I get three different answers.

That's not the crisp command and control that you expect from the top that the president of the United States would expect, and he is not being served, nor Admiral Allen, in that command and control.

COOPER: Senator Nelson, I appreciate your time. Thank you, Sir.

NELSON: Thanks, Anderson.


COOPER: Senator Nelson earlier today.

Coming up next, is it a smoking gun against BP? Internal documents allegedly show the company was more concerned with saving money than safety. That's ahead.

Also tonight, remembering the loved ones who died on the Deepwater Horizon. I talked with some of the - those who died's loved ones about how they are coping today.


ARLENE WEISE, MOTHER OF ADAM WEISE: One foot in front of the other, one day at a time.

Just, you know, I went back to work and that's a distraction for me, but I think I need a little more time off.



COOPER: For weeks now, BP has been talking about the safety record. They say it's good. But, is it really?

Tonight, perhaps the most damaging piece of evidence to prove otherwise, and it's coming from within the company. Randi Kaye reports.


RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Even after more than 50 days of one disturbing detail of lax oversight after another, this new information still stuns. BP's own auditors and others have found the oil giant's been ignoring its own safety policies for years. This, according to an investigation by the nonprofit journalism group ProPublica, and "The Washington Post."

The reported alleges instances of BP intimidating employees who reported problems and delaying safety checks to reduce costs. ProPublica says it obtained a series of internal investigations from a person close to BP who believes the company has not yet done enough to eradicate its shortcomings, investigations that over the past decade warned senior BP managers that the company, according to "The Post", risked a serious accident if it did not change its ways.

RYAN KNUTSON, PROPUBLICA: We found numerous instances where BP was putting production in - ahead of safety and maintenance inspections.

KAYE: Among the most egregious? A 2001 BP commissioned report noted that workers felt BP had neglected to maintain shut-off valves in Alaska, valves similar to those that could have helped prevent the fire and explosion that occurred on the rig in the gulf.

A document obtained by ProPublica says a 2004 internal investigation found BP cut maintenance costs by using aging equipment. The result? Accidents like the 2006 spill in Alaska's Prudhoe Bay, 200,000 gallons lost. It was blamed on an aging, corroded pipeline.

SCOTT WEST, FORMER EPA INVESTIGATOR: BP failed to follow industry standard practices on maintaining that pipeline.

KAYE: Scott West was the EPA criminal investigator who headed up the case against BP after that spill. He says in 2002, BP's own experts warned that the pipeline needed to be checked, but BP waited four years to do so.

WEST: And that resulted in the rupture of that pipe and the large amount of oil coming out onto the frozen tundra.

KAYE: And there's more. Four years before that, in 2002, court documents show BP was accused of falsifying inspections of fuel tanks at its Carson refinery near Los Angeles in order to comply with the law. In the end, the company was sued. It settled out of court for more than $80 million, but never admitted guilt.

In March, 2005, perhaps the most tragic incident of all. BP's Texas City refinery exploded, killing 15 people. Investigators discovered the company had ignored its own protocols. The plant warning system failed.

KAYE (on camera): BP pleaded guilty to federal felony charges. It was hit with a $50 million fine by the EPA. Even so, last year, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration fined BP another $87 million for not improving safety at that same Texas plant.

KAYE (voice-over): With history like this one, can anyone trust BP? We tried asking the company, but nobody called us back.

BP spokesman Toby Odone told "The Washington Post" that the company has worked to create responsible operations at every BP operation, and they expect to have it fully implemented by the end of this year. Odone said the notion that BP has ongoing problems addressing worker concerns is essentially groundless.

WEST: There is a - a public persona, portrayal of BP as being a safety first organization. However, when you talk to the actual workers and contract employees, you find that it's primarily smoke and mirrors. When workers bring that to the attention of management or speak out about it, they often find themselves retaliated against.

KAYE: What angers Scott West most? That BP is still in business, still putting its workers at risk.

WEST: BP just does not seem to get it or is convinced that the government is not going to take serious action.

KAYE (on camera): It may take the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon and the deaths of 11 employees for the EPA to bar BP from any more government contracts, something they've been considering for years. It's a move that would cost the company billions, but hardly prevent it from doing business.

Randi Kaye, CNN, Destin, Florida.


COOPER: We're going to have more on the gulf oil spill ahead.

First, let's check tonight's other important stories. Gary Tuchman joins us with the "360 Bulletin" - Gary.


We have breaking news. A Peruvian police official says Joran van der Sloot admitted during an interrogation that he knows the location of Natalee Holloway's body, but he wouldn't share the information or say what happened to the Alabama teen who vanished in Aruba five years ago.

Van der Sloot is behind bars in Lima, accused of killing a 21-year-old woman in his hotel room there.

And Arlington National Cemetery dishonoring the dead. A new Army investigation reveals 211 graves were misidentified or misplaced. The superintendent of the cemetery is getting slapped with a letter of reprimand. His deputy is on administrative leave.

In the Southern Indian Ocean, a 16-year-old California girl has vanished while trying to sail by herself around the world. Abby Sunderland's family last heard from her this morning when she was facing 30-foot swells and stormy weather. Sad story.

Back to you, Anderson.

COOPER: Oh, just terrible. Yes, Gary, thanks.

Up next, my interview with some of the family - families of the 11 men killed on the Deepwater Horizon. Hear how they are coping and how they want their loved ones to be remembered. There's been so much coverage, but not enough of those who lost their lives.

We'll talk to the family members ahead.


COOPER: Welcome back.

You know, there's a lot, of course, going on here in the gulf, but as we continue to bring you the latest, it's important, I think, that we don't forget that 11 families are grieving.

Eleven men died on the Deepwater Horizon, the oldest was 56, the youngest was just 22. They left behind 21 children, including Gordon Jones, left behind a baby boy who was born after the rig exploded. Gordon Jones never got to see that little child.

Families of these 11 men were guests today at the White House where they met with President Obama. I spoke to some of them earlier.


COOPER: I want to thank you all for being with us.

Shelley, you lost your husband, Jason, on the rig. How - how have you been holding up?

SHELLEY ANDERSON, WIDOW OF JASON ANDERSON: I'm doing the best that I can, with the support of my family and my friends. They are holding me up, one day at a time.

COOPER: Billy, what - one day at a time. Yes.

Billy, what was it like being at the White House today, meeting with the president?

BILLY ANDERSON, FATHER OF JASON ANDERSON: It was reassuring. He was very concerned. I think he was truthful in what he, you know, the way - he took time to see every one of us, every single one of us and spent a few minutes visiting with us, and very sincere in what he wanted to do. So I was very impressed and I really appreciate the opportunity to talk to him.

COOPER: And Courtney, your - your husband Roy have been saying, had told you he'd been having some kind of trouble with work on the rig. What kind of trouble was he talking about?

COURTNEY KEMP, WIDOW OF ROY WYATT KEMP: He had told me that they were receiving a lot of kicks from the well and that they had in fact lost the well one time and lost a lot of tools and everything down the well and millions of dollars.

COOPER: What did you make of that? I mean, did - you probably - had he worked on wells before? Did - did this seem different?

KEMP: They seemed to be having, according to my husband, a lot more trouble than normal. It - it just seemed to - always something would be going on and it was always negative things. They were always having problems with this well.

COOPER: Keith, you've been on this program before. You - you lost your son, Gordon Jones, who was a - a mud engineer on board - on board the rig.

And originally you had testified on -on Capitol Hill to talk about reforming the - the 1920 Death on the High Seas Act which basically limits liability for wrongful deaths more than three miles offshore. I think a lot of people don't even know it exists.

After meeting with the president today, I mean, do you have hope that - that this is going to change, this law is going to change?

KEITH JONES, FATHER OF GORDON JONES: I sure do. And - and based not just on the meeting with the president today, although he was awfully reassuring, but also having met with an awful lot of senators and congressmen. After my son's testimony the other day, before the Senate Judiciary Committee, there seems to be an awful lot of momentum in Congress to get things moving.

We've gotten assurances from both the speaker and from the president of the Senate, so we're very encouraged.

COOPER: Sherri, what - what's the response been like from BP? You lost your husband, Dewey.

SHERRI REVETTE, WIDOW OF DEWEY REVETTE: There'as been no communication between BP and myself.

COOPER: Wait - wait a minute. They haven't - they haven't called you? They haven't sent you a card?

REVETTE: No. No phone call. Nothing.

I believe I might have had one or two at the memorial service, but no communication.

COOPER: Let me - is that the same for - for all of you? I mean, Keith, have you heard from BP? Because I remember your son Chris saying that at the memorial service basically BP executives kind of were hustled out the back at the end with the private security and loaded into SUVs and drove off. Have you heard from them?

JONES: Not a word. Never.

When - when I testified before the House Judiciary Committee, a fellow from BP was testifying four chairs down and never looked my way. I think they're under instructions not to communicate, but I - I cannot understand, for the life of me, why.

COOPER: Courtney, I mean, you lost your husband Roy. Is it the same story? BP hasn't contacted you to - to at least say I'm sorry?

KEMP: The only contact that I've had with BP is they sent two representatives to his memorial service. They both extended their hands, told me who they were. One asked if he could hug me and I told him yes. And they sent two beautiful plants to the memorial service, and that's it.


COOPER: Well, no one lost more than they did when the Deepwater Horizon exploded.

Coming up, the rest of my interview with the families whose loved ones died on the rig. They tell me what - what made these men so special and so missed.


COOPER: Eleven men died on the Deepwater Horizon. The oldest was 56. The youngest was 22.

We spoke to the family members of several men today. Jason Anderson was a - a tool pusher on the rig. His family said he's the kind of guy who didn't really like fishing, but went anyway just to kind of spend time with friends.

Gordon Jones, we talked to his dad, Keith, and also his brother before on the show. Gordon Jones was a drilling fluid specialist, a mud engineer. A scratch golfer, a rabid LSU fan. It's so sad, his second son, Maxwell, was born after the rig exploded. He obviously never got to see him.

Wyatt Kemp was a (INAUDIBLE) who loved hunting and fishing, and his family remembers him for his sense of humor and his love of all of them.

Dewey Revette was a driller. He is remembered for his smile, for giving everything he had to everything he did.

Adam Weise was a floor hand, a former high school football star, who was beloved in his hometown. Here's the rest of my interview with their family members.


COOPER: Arlene, I talked to five survivors of the rig and each one of them, you know, said to me that the reason they wanted to talk is they wanted people to know about the 11 men who lost their lives and they felt like in all of the coverage, that had sort of gotten lost. And I - I, you know, I - I think I - I share a role in that, and I think we haven't focused enough on those who lost their lives.

So just tell me about - about your loss. I mean, what - what do you want people - people to know about your son Adam?

WEISE: I want people to know not just about Adam but all the men. You know, it was like they're just always referred to as 11 men lost, and I got tired of hearing that, you know? And I - you know, these men had a sense of humor and, you know, practical jokes, and I want them to - I want people to know all of them.

You know, it is not just 11 men. It's, you know -

COOPER: Adam was a - was a football star. WEISE: Yes, he was. He - he loved playing football. And he loved hunting and fishing and practical jokes.

COOPER: He was 24 years old?

WEISE: Twenty-four years old.

You know, at 24, he had a home and - he was buying a home and, you know, his own vehicles and a boat, you know. And, you know, he was a very responsible, you know, person and loving, you know? He's just, you know, so young to have so much, I think.

COOPER: Billy, what - what do you want people to - to know about - about your son Jason?

B. ANDERSON: Jason was the type of son that every father hopes and wishes and prays for. A great father, a great husband to Shelley. Just - just a great guy, that was always more concerned with everybody's well-being before his own.

And I know that - that Jason would want us to be doing what we're doing. And he - he just - he was just a super, super guy. He's going to be missed by - just missed by a lot of folks.

COOPER: Shelley Anderson, is there anything you want to add? I would like to hear it.

S. ANDERSON: Jason is the most amazing guy in the whole world and he's the most devoted husband, the best dad. He was the best at what he does on this - on that rig and he only worked with the best.

And - and he is the light of my life, the father of my children. He's an incredible dancer and the love of my life.

COOPER: Keith -

WEISE: This has been exhausting.

COOPER: -- what do you want people to know about Gordon?

JONES: Two things, I suppose. First of all, Gordon was one of those rare guys. Everybody liked Gordon. And I understand not everybody likes me and I - but - but everybody liked Gordon. He was just one of those personalities that - that he could - he could tell a joke at your expense and you'd laugh and not hold it against him.

The other thing is that Gordon was just the greatest husband and father. He was so looking forward to - to Maxwell Gordon's birth and being a dad for the second time so that he could have his two sons to play with each other and grow up together.

COOPER: Did he get to see his newborn child?

JONES: Never got to see him, no. Maxwell Gordon was born a few weeks after Gordon died. We were able to bring him with us to the White House, though, today and so the president met him. COOPER: Courtney, what do you want people to know about your husband?

KEMP: Wyatt was a Christian. He loved the lord with all of his heart. He's a wonderful father and a husband and son and son-in-law and brother. And he was just loved by so many people. And he loved his girls with all of his heart.

COOPER: And Sherri? Tell me about Dewey.

REVETTE: Whew. A wonderful guy. A great personality. The best husband in the world. He was a very good father. We were very blessed - very blessed. He will greatly be missed.

COOPER: Is there anything else for all of you that you - that you want people to know out there?

KEMP: I - I would just like to say that with everything that is going on with the oil spill then and the 11 men that lost their lives too, for America to not forget about the survivors either, because they are definitely devastated by all of this. And our hearts and prayers are with them as well.

COOPER: Well, again, I - I know it's been a long day for all of you and probably one of many long days in the last 52 days.

Keith and Courtney and Arlene, Sherri and Billy, Shelley and - I appreciate you - you spending time with us today. Thank you.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you very much.



COOPER: And we're going to focus on the survivors of the Deepwater rig tomorrow night. That's it for us tonight.


I'll see you tomorrow night here from New Orleans.