(AP/Huffington Post) -- Interior Secretary Ken Salazar says the potential environmental outlook for the Gulf Coast oil spill is "a very grave scenario."
He tells NBC's "Meet the Press" that it could take three months before workers attain what he calls the "ultimate solution" to stopping the leak -- drilling a relief well more than 3 miles below the ocean floor.
Until that's accomplished, he says, "a lot of oil could spread."
Salazar says President Barack Obama has directed him to protect all of the assets in the region, including the communities that will be affected by the spill.
Salazar also appeared on CNN's "State of the Union," telling host Candy Crowley that the Gulf Coast disaster was "indeed, a massive oil spill."
"It potentially is very catastrophic. And I think we have to prepare for the worst, as we have from day one," he said. "If this thing continues to spew out, the ultimate relief here is going to be a relief well that may be 90 days out. And so we have to be prepared to make sure that we're protecting the American public, the American environment, our treasured coastlines on the Gulf Coast. So we are ready to do everything humanly possible to get that done."
The secretary also pointed out that BP, which operated the rig that caused the spill, would be held accountable.
"Our job is to keep the boot on the neck of" BP Salazar said of the company's responsibility to clean up the spill. Watch video of Salazar's "Meet the Press" appearance: