NEW ORLEANS - BP plans to bring in an oil-burning device and a tanker from the North Sea as it tries to contain the crude spewing into the Gulf of Mexico, a disaster creating headaches for people who make money off the sea and those processing their claims of financial loss.
The current containment system is catching 630,000 gallons of oil daily, Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen said at a news briefing in Washington.
Even so, there's still more oil eluding capture. BP is bringing in a second vessel that will increase capacity, as well as the North Sea shuttle tanker, which will assist in the transport of the oil, and a device that will burn off some of it.
The government is also keeping an eye on how BP is reimbursing people for their losses. Allen has written to BP CEO Tony Hayward demanding "more detail and openness" about how the company is handling mounting damage claims, reminding the beleaguered executive that his company "is accountable to the American public for the economic loss caused by the oil spill."
Shrimpers, oystermen, seafood businesses, out-of-work drilling crews and the tourism industry all are lining up to get paid back the billions of dollars washed away by the disaster, and tempers have flared as locals direct outrage at BP over what they see as a tangle of red tape.
BP's stock price plunged yesterday as jittery investors feared the economic toll of the crisis would eat away at the company's robust dividend. And Allen has noted that "working claims is not something that's part of BP's organizational competence."
_ The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reported that a wildlife rescue center at Fort Jackson, La., received more than five times as many oily birds in the past few days as in the previous six weeks combined. The total is about 400 birds.
_ Crews working to contain the hundreds of thousands of gallons still spewing from the sea floor toiled under oppressive conditions as the heat index soared to 110 degrees and toxic vapors emanated from the site of the disaster. Fire ships were on hand to pour water on the surface to mitigate the fumes.