TAPPER: Good morning. For the first time, we've been told the flow of oil gushing from the well has slowed thanks to that containment dome. Yet on the surface, oil is now washing ashore in four Gulf states, including Florida, as more than 20,000 workers scramble to keep pace with the spreading slick.
Joining me this morning, the man leading the massive federal response, Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen. Admiral, thanks for joining us.
ALLEN: Good morning, Jake.
TAPPER: So what's the latest on the containment dome? How much oil is it containing?
ALLEN: In the last 24 hours from midnight last night to midnight this last night, they collected just about 10,000 barrels.
TAPPER: OK, and the CEO of BP, Anthony Hayward, has said he anticipates it will be able to contain the majority of the oil. Do you agree?
ALLEN: That's correct if it's operating properly. What they're trying to do is take the pressure in the wellbore and actually produce oil -- take the pressure off and to evacuate the oil. We're not going to know how much oil is coming out until we're able to optimize the production, and that's what they're doing right now. They are slowly raising production. It was 6,000 a day before and it was 10,000 yesterday.
TAPPER: We heard a lot of talk about in 1993, the Saudis had an oil spill and they used these huge tankers to vacuum up the oil. How come that isn't being done with this spill?
ALLEN: We actually talked to those folks. There are a couple of issues with that. Number one, the tankers actually have to be modified. They're not ready to go right now. Number two, we don't know what those modifications will do to the stability of the vessels and how they operate. Number there, the area of operation is very, very different. We've got anywhere from 20 to 30 vessels within a one square mile over the top of that well at any particular time, managing remotely operated vehicles, doing the drilling the relief wells and so forth, so it's not -- I'm not sure it's the right application for that technology.
TAPPER: I just got back from Grand Isle, Louisiana. When I was down there, I was told about the huge oil slick headed towards the coast. I was told it was four miles wide, 30 miles long, maybe four to 12 inches thick. What can you tell us about that?
ALLEN: Well, what we're trying to do is fight this thing offshore. And this is a war. It's an insidious war, because it's attacking, you know, four states one at a time, and it comes from different directions depending on the weather. Offshore skimmers are the way to handle it, because we can do in situ burning above the well. But once it gets close to shore, it's got to be mechanical skimming and getting it as far offshore as we can.
TAPPER: Is there a big oil slick that size coming--
ALLEN: There are a number of slicks. One of the problems with this entire spill is it's not a monolithic, huge spill. Depending on when the oil came to the surface and the wind and the current, it's disaggregated itself into hundreds, maybe thousands of smaller pieces of oil. So we're trying to fight it on a lot of different fronts.
TAPPER: What about these enormous underwater plumes we keep hearing about?