Alex Downgraded, but Hampering Gulf Cleanup

The deck of the "A Whale" skimmer, billed as the world's largest oil skimming vessel, is seen from its bridge while anchored on the Mississippi River in Boothville, La., June 30, 2010.
AP Photo

Thursday, a barge reappeared on Baritaria Bay, to block oil from floating in, reports CBS News correspondent Mark Strassmann. But stormy waters docked smaller cleanup boats, scattered boom and left coastlines vulnerable.

"Out on shore and near-shore skimming and recovery operations have been significantly hampered by the weather," said Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen.

These choppy waters are too much for the skimmers to be effective. Tar patties like this one have reappeared in the bay, pushed here by Alex's surge. Until the storm completely passes, there's nothing anyone can do about it. On land, it's a similar story. Oil washed inland several hundred yards from the coast, into the grasses for the first time, making this cleanup harder.

This Taiwanese super-skimmer might help. It's more than three football fields long and 10 stories high. BP told CBS News it has no plans to use it, but the Coast Guard wants to test it.

Bob Dudley would decide. On YouTube, BP's new point man on the spill answered questions about the spill. Shelly Landry owns Grand Isle's only grocery store. She watched, unimpressed.

"They're not answering our calls. They're not answering our cries for help that we need to stop this," Landry said.

Friday is shaping up as the third straight day of this cleanup lost to bad weather - the forecast calls for 80 percent chance of rain.

Special Section: Disaster in the Gulf
BP Oil Spill Is Now The Largest Ever In Gulf
Huge Skimming Ship Headed for Gulf Oil Spill
Fears Over Slick Spread Along Coast
Alex Halts Skimming, Sends Tar Balls Ashore
Bad Weather Halts Spill Relief

  • Mark Strassmann
    Mark Strassmann

    Mark Strassmann has been a CBS News correspondent since January 2001 and is based in the Atlanta bureau.