April 23, 2010 — -- There is no crude oil spilling from the sunken oil rig off the Louisiana coast, an official told "Good Morning America" today, easing fears of a massive environmental disaster.
"We've been able to determine there is nothing emanating from the well-head," Coast Guard Rear Admiral Mary Landry said. "That being said, we have positioned resources to be ready to respond should a spill occur... We will continue to monitor 24/7 for the next several days."
Though Landry said the Coast Guard is "holding out hope" of finding the 11 oil rig workers that have been missing since an explosion ignited the Deepwater Horizon rig Tuesday, a slick of oil that initially spread from the rig shifted focus from the search to ominous environmental concerns.
On Thursday, oil officials feared the worst. "I think it could have the potential to be a major spill," David Raine, vice president of British Petroleum, the company who had the rig under contract, said Thursday.
Landry, however, said today that by using underwater remotely operated vehicles and sonar, the Coast Guard determined that what oil is in the water -- a light sheen about 5 miles long and a mile wide -- was "residual from the explosion" and not the product of an opened well. The Coast Guard launched vessels with "skimming" capabilities Thursday to help clean up that spill.
"Our hope is it will stay off shore," Landry said.
BP and the company that owns the rig, Transocean Ltd., have other worries as several wrongful death suits have already been filed against the companies.
Landry said the Coast Guard will continue to search for the 11 missing workers.
"Our sympathies go out to the families," Landry said. "We're going to continue to search throughout the day today... But from the debriefing of the survivors, it appears that these 11 people may have been on the rig when the incident occurred."
Nearly 100 survivors of Tuesday's explosion, which sent several workers diving off the 75-foot high platform, arrived in a New Orleans port early Thursday. Seventeen others were taken to area hospitals, some with critical injuries.
"My heart goes out to them, it really does," said Carol Moss, the wife of one survivor. "I couldn't imagine ... I just hope and pray that they find them."
After the Coast Guard fought an unwieldly fire on the top of the rig for days, a series of explosions rocked the rig on Thursday before it eventually slipped below the water's surface.
"We were hoping to see the rig or any remnants, but it is completely gone," Coast Guard Ensign Mike Yanez said.
Official: 'Blowout' Possible Cause of Explosion
The Coast Guard said it is using underwater robots and working with survivors, BP and Transocean in the hope of determining the cause of the explosion.
"We have an active investigation that commenced with the start of this explosion," Landry said.
The rig was finishing work on a new well at the floor of the Gulf when it was rattled by an explosion late Tuesday night. The 115 survivors that have been accounted for said they scrambled from the burning rig, some piling into lifeboats, others jumping into the gulf, risking the more than 75-foot dive into the sea.
The rig is about twice the size of a football field and can drill up to 30,000 feet deep, according to Transocean's website.
Transocean's vice president, Adrian Rose, told the Associated Press Thursday the explosion appeared to be a blowout, meaning natural gas or oil forced its way up a well pipe and damaged equipment.