“We will lose more coastline from this catastrophe than from all four hurricanes – Katrina, Rita, Gustav and Ike,” Mr Nungesser said.
A Democrat senator, Bill Nelson, whose home state of Florida could yet be hit by the slick, said if BP’s latest attempt to plug the leak failed, Mr Obama would need to seize personal control of the effort immediately.
A Louisiana resident, James Carville, appealed to the President. ‘‘Man, you got to get down here and take control of this, put someone in charge of this thing and get this thing moving. We’re about to die down here.”
The White House insists the administration has been doing all it can, having dispatched more than 20,000 personnel to help with containment, while drafting 1300 vessels to assist with dredging and skimming.
Mr Obama, who will visit the Gulf for a second time today, has made great play in demanding that BP put things right and compensate all those hit by the spill, while foreshadowing tough new drilling regulations.
But some political strategists believe that the Deepwater Horizon blowout looms as Mr Obama’s “Katrina”, a reference to how an inadequate response to the 2005 hurricane tainted the administration of George Bush.
The administration backed the so-called ‘‘top kill’’ procedure in which underwater robots have been forcing a mix of drilling mud and cement deep into the well, more than 1.6 kilometres below the surface. Several hours after the effort began on Wednesday afternoon, BP officials said the signs were hopeful.
“What you’ve been observing coming out of the top of that riser is most likely mud,” BP’s chief operating officer, Doug Suttles, told reporters in Houston.
“The way we know we’ve been successful is it stops flowing.”
Documents have revealed that the volume of leaking oil was likely to have been far greater than the company’s public estimate of 5000 barrels a day.
BP’s own documents put an upper estimate of more than 14,000 barrels a day.