Gulf fishing ban extended to area roughly the size of Greece

Walking along a Louisiana beach yesterday, the chief operating officer of British Petroleum was caught on tape ordering subordinates multiple times to "get 'em out of here," apparently referencing media personnel who were swarming the scene prior to a press conference.

The clip has since raised the public's level of ire against the company, at a time when all BP's recent press coverage seems to paint a picture darker than oil.

At first, CEO Tony Hayward appeared to motion toward a cameraman who was standing next to a large puddle of toxic sludge. Pointing at the man, he said sternly: "Hey! Get outta there. Get outta there!"

The cameraman moved.

After an inaudible exchange with nearby subordinates, the CEO then gestured toward other reporters and said softly, "Get 'em out. Get 'em out. Get 'em out." He was wearing a wireless mic.

Having given the order, Hayward began walking to the site of a planned press conference some "hundreds of yards away," according to one report, drawing the camera crews along with him.

Covering the scene live was CNN's Rick Sanchez, who appeared aghast at the comments.

"There have been some questions as to whether BP has been transparent enough and allowed media to go in and take pictures that they probably don't want you to see," the anchor said. "Um, but, you and I both heard the 'Get 'em outta there,' not on one occasion but it seemed like two occasions."

During the same excursion, reporters with ABC News were following Hayward during his walk along the same beach featured by CNN. "I'm absolutely gutted," he said. "This is something I never wanted to see happen."

The ABC report did not feature Hayward's order to get the media out.

"The last time I checked, we don't live in the United States of BP," Americablog commented. "Again, would someone in the White House like to step up and take control of this situation? This pompous ass thinks he owns the place and quite frankly, he does at the moment."

In the first weeks of the disaster, BP was heavily criticized for delaying release of video showing the deep water Gulf oil gusher. When video was finally released, the company lied about what took so long, then perpetuated it's estimate that 5,000 barrels of oil were venting per day. The CEO would later claim there is no way of knowing how much oil is gushing into the Gulf, contradicting his company's earlier claim.

Independent scientific analysis of the gusher indicated that figure was really 70,000 barrels or more, per day, spewing into the fragile ecosystem. At that rate, BP's disaster topped the infamous Exxon-Valdez spill in just four days.

At time of this writing, the gusher had been spewing oil for 35 days, uninterrupted.

Some 54,096 square miles (140,000 square kilometers) of Gulf of Mexico waters are now closed to fishing, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said. That area is close to the size of Greece, according to an AFP calculation.

Some legal experts say that criminal charges stemming from the disaster will arrive in a matter of time. President Obama has formed a bipartisan commission to investigate the events leading to the April 20 blast that sunk the Deepwater Horizon drilling platform. He has also assigned a team of America's brightest scientific minds to assist BP in plugging the well, and demanded the company pay for every cent of environmental cleanup needed to restore severely damaged Gulf economies.

This video is from CNN, broadcast May 24, 2010, snipped by

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With AFP.