The Obama administration says the effort to contain the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is making progress, with more oil captured each day.
In Washington Tuesday, Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen said almost 15,000 barrels of oil were contained in the past 24 hours, up from about 11,000 barrels the previous day.
Allen leads the government's response to the crisis. He says vessels on the surface collecting the oil have yet to reach their maximum capacity.
Oil continues to escape from the leaking well, and Allen says experts led by the U.S. Geological Survey are working on finding an accurate flow-rate estimate to determine how much oil has been released into the Gulf.
Louisiana has been hardest hit by the disaster, but oil residue is continuing to spread elsewhere in the Gulf to fragile coastlines, coating wildlife in a black ooze and threatening the livelihoods of fishermen and other business owners.
Admiral Allen says the oil company BP has closed one of four vents on the cap over the leaking well, but that oil is continuing to escape through the remaining three vents. Seven weeks after the spill began leaking oil, Allen said cleanup work is likely to continue for months or even years to come.
At the same news briefing Tuesday, the head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Jane Lubchenco, said water samples taken by NOAA scientists have confirmed the presence of oil suspended below the surface of the Gulf. She said additional research is being done to determine the impact of that oil.
Earlier, in an interview broadcast on U.S. television, President Barack Obama said he was speaking with fishermen in the region and experts to determine who needs to be punished for the spill - or, as he put it, "whose ass to kick." He took a strong stance against the head of oil giant BP, Tony Hayward, who has made controversial statements minimizing the impact of the spill. Hayward also has expressed frustration about the glare of public attention on the oil spill, saying at one point that he "wants his life back," but he has since apologized for those remarks.
The president has said the economic impact of the spill will be "substantial."