Ask CBS News: Can I Volunteer to Clean Up Oil?

Katie Couric and Chip Reid

Last Friday CBS News asked our viewers to send us questions about the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Monday and Tuesday we answered your questions. You can read those questions and answers here:

CBS News Answers Your Oil Spill Questions
CBS News Answers More Oil Spill Questions

We got many responses on Twitter. And here are some more answers to your questions.

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A viewer asks: Is BP only showing images that it wants the public to see? And do we really know how serious the spill is?

CBS News investigative correspondent Sharyl Attkisson answers: In short, yes. Remember, it took members of Congress and a Freedom of Information Act request from CBS before we saw the very first live video feeds and archive video. But Congressional investigators and scientists say BP is still holding on to a lot of archive video as well as a log showing exactly what it is that they do have.

A viewer asks: What happens when the containment ships are full?

When the ships are full they're going to be off loaded out in the Gulf and then a shuttle tanker will bring that oil to shore, says CBS News correspondent Mark Strassman. BP will refine it, sell it, and then the proceeds, BP says, will be used to fund a restoration of wildlife here in the U.S.

Question: Are there opportunities for people to volunteer to help clean up oil?

People, in fact, can volunteer, answers CBS News correspondent Kelly Cobiella. As a matter of fact, more than 17,000 across the four Gulf states impacted so far already have. You have to go through about six hours of training in order to deal with any of the oil, pick it up from the beach or deal with wildlife. Those who tonight want to do that kind of volunteering can help with office work.

Question: Why hasn't President Obama declared the Gulf states a federal disaster releasing federal assistance to the governors?

CBS News White House correspondent Chip Reid says if this had been a natural disaster like a hurricane, that's exactly what would have happened. The states would be declared disaster areas and they would then be eligible for federal reimbursement. But in this case, BP is the responsible party so the governors aren't even asking the federal government for money. They're going straight to that deep pocket: BP.