Obama says oil spill potentially unprecedented environmental disaster

11:03, May 03, 2010      

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U.S. President Barack Obama talks after touring the Coast Guard Venice Center in the Gulf of Mexico region to view environmental damage caused by the sinking of BP's oil and gas Deepwater Horizontal drilling rig while in Venice, Louisiana, May 2, 2010. (Xinhua/Agencies Photo)

President Barack Obama said on Sunday the United States is dealing with a "massive" and " potentially unprecedented" environmental disaster as a result of the expanding oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico caused by a sunken oil rig.

Speaking at a Coast Guard station in Venice on the southern tip of Louisiana, Obama said the spill is a potentially unprecedented environmental disaster, adding that British Petroleum (BP), to which the rig is under contract, is clearly responsible and will have to pay the bill for it.

"We're dealing with a massive and potentially unprecedented environmental disaster, ... let me be clear, BP is responsible for this leak. BP will be paying the bill," said the president.

Obama said the oil spill could jeopardize the livelihood of thousands of Americans, and promised his administration would do whatever it takes to stop the crisis.

"The oil that is still leaking from the well could seriously damage the economy and the environment of our Gulf states ... It could jeopardize the livelihoods of thousands of Americans who call this place home," he said.

The oil spill, caused initially by a huge explosion on April 20 at the Deepwater Horizon platform, is fed by a massive leak in the now sunken rig, which is about 5,000 barrels of oil a day. It has threatened the fragile coastal environment and forced the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to close commercial and recreational fishing in oil-affected waters in the Gulf of Mexico for at least ten days.

Although BP will be held accountable, Obama vowed to do everything in his power to fight the crisis, saying he will "spare no effort to respond to this crisis for as long as it continues."

Obama was touring slick-stricken Louisiana on an overcast Sunday. He was briefed by Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, Environmental Protection Agency head Lisa Jackson and Coast Guard Commandant Thad Allen. They discussed well capping procedures used to stop the leak, economic implications of the disaster and environmental impact to the marshlands of Louisiana coast, according to the White House.

In his remarks, Obama also pledged that law enforcement will do "what's necessary" to find the ones responsible for a failed car bombing attempt in New York City on Saturday.

Obama said he talked with New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and his administration's national security teams have been taking " every step necessary to ensure that our state and local partners have the full support and cooperation of the federal government."

"We're going to do what's necessary to protect the American people, to determine who's behind this potentially deadly act, and to see that justice is done," he said.

Source: Xinhua


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