Grim View of Oil Spill From the Empty Boats

Workers line up orange boom getting it ready to load on boats Sunday, May 2, 2010 on Dauphin Island, Ala. The boom will be used to keep oil spilling from a well in the Gulf of Mexico from coming onshore in Bayou La Batre, and Dauphin Island areas.
AP Photo/Michelle Rolls-Thomas

Today the outlying sheen of oil crept into Louisiana's marshes. By midweek, the main body of oil could wash up somewhere along the Gulf Coast, from Louisiana to Alabama.

A fishing ban is on for at least nine more days, during the height of oyster season.

"We're in trouble," Peter Young, a local fishing boat captain, told CBS News correspondent Mark Strassmann. "We're in big trouble."

Today from a Coast Guard search and rescue chopper, we could see the booms in the water - coastline protection from the estimated 5,000 barrels of =;contentBody>oil leaking into the Gulf of Mexico each day.

The admiral in charge of the operation says this leak could get twenty times worse.

So far, BP has failed to seal the gushing well.

Today, robotic subs tried to fit a valve on the smallest of three leaks. Deep underwater, chemical dispersants have had some success breaking up oil so it will drop to the ocean floor.

In six days, BP hopes to lower 74 ton boxes like this one over the leaks, to contain the oil.

It may take 3 months to build, but a relief well will pump in concrete to seal off the oil gusher permanently.

Clearly defensive, BP blames the leak on a faulty piece of equipment.

"The leak is not our fault but it is our responsibility," said BP CEO Tony Hayward.

In Venice Louisiana, yesterday, President Obama said this crisis has his full attention.

"Our focus now on a fully coordinated relentless response effort to stop the leak and prevent more damage to the Gulf," he said Sunday.

BP is attempting make friends with local fishermen. It offered to hire them for the cleanup - but only if they signed agreements promising not to sue BP for any injuries, and not to talk about their work.

A local judge voided that agreement.

But Peter Young looks out at the empty boats, tied to the docks, and sees no nothing that will stop the oily threat to his livelihood -- and Louisiana's two billion dollar seafood industry.

"We could be sitting here for a long time," he said.

  • Mark Strassmann
    Mark Strassmann

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