May 10, 2010 6:55 PM by Melissa Canone
By The Associated Press
Events May 10, Day 21 of a Gulf of Mexico oil spill that began
with an explosion and fire on April 20 on the drilling rig
Deepwater Horizon, owned by Transocean Ltd. and leased by BP PLC,
which is in charge of cleanup and containment. The blast killed 11
workers. Since then, oil has been pouring into the Gulf from a
blown-out undersea well at about 210,000 gallons per day.
HOW CAN THEY PLUG THE GUSHER?
Top hats and junk shots are on the list of possible next steps
as BP, casting about after a 100-ton containment box failed,
settles in for a long fight to stop its uncontrolled oil gusher a
mile under the Gulf of Mexico. Engineers at BP PLC were wrestling
with a shopping list of ways to plug the well or siphon off the
spewing crude, including a smaller containment box, dubbed a top
hat, and injecting debris into the well as a stopper, called a junk
Helicopters dropped large sandbags in Louisiana to try to
protect the Lafourche Parish marshes from the massive oil slick.
The spill began creeping farther west of the Mississippi River last
week. About 300, one-ton sandbags were expected to be used as a
makeshift boom to protect the coast.
COST SO FAR
BP - which is responsible for the cleanup - said Monday the
spill has cost it $350 million so far for immediate response,
containment efforts, commitments to the Gulf Coast states, as well
as settlements and federal costs. The company did not speculate on
the final bill, which most analysts expect to run into tens of
billions of dollars.
At least 4 million gallons of oil have spilled since the
explosion on the Deepwater Horizon. At that pace, the spill would
surpass the 11 million gallons spilled in the Exxon Valdez disaster
by Father's Day.
Battered by hurricanes, weakened by erosion and flood-control
projects, the sprawling wetlands that nurture Gulf of Mexico marine
life and buffer coastal sites from storm surges now face another
stern test as a monster oil slick creeps ever closer. About 40
percent of the nation's coastal wetlands are clumped along southern
Louisiana, directly in the path of oil that was still gushing
Monday from a ruptured underwater well. Roughly 3.5 million gallons
has escaped in the three weeks since an oil rig explosion, and some
is bearing down on the marshes as workers rush to lay protective
For watermen across the Gulf Coast, waiting is now a way of
life. Waiting to see where the slick will land. Waiting for crab
and shrimp zones to reopen. Waiting to make some money. Many wait
all day in hopes of being loaded up with boom to keep oil out of
untainted waters, only to leave without work.
With millions of dollars invested in campaign donations and an
all-star lobbying team, BP executives could give an advanced class
in how to build influence in Washington. But with millions of
gallons of leaking oil bearing down on Gulf Coast beaches and
bayous, they could also teach how to lose it. Even pro-oil
Republicans are demanding answers. At least for the moment, it
appears that whatever clout BP has accrued, the oil company is
unlikely to get delicate handling from lawmakers investigating the
oil rig disaster when oversight hearings begin this week on Capitol
A BP shareholder has filed suit against the corporation's
executives because of the offshore rig disaster that led to the oil
spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Filed in federal court in New Orleans
on Friday, the lawsuit by Pennsylvania resident Katherine Firpo
accuses BP PLC of ignoring safety issues on rigs such as the
Deepwater Horizon. And the suit accuses BP of pursuing cost-cutting
measures at the expense of safety, while lobbying authorities to
decrease safety regulation.
Lenny Kravitz, Ani DiFranco and Mos Def are among the headliners
for a benefit concert to support relief efforts for those affected
by the spill. Kravitz, who lives part-time in New Orleans, was the
first to sign up. Others participating are: Allen Toussaint,
Zachary Richard, Jeremy Davenport and The Voice of the Wetlands
Allstars, which features Dr. John and Cyril Neville. The benefit
concert will take place on Sunday at Mardi Gras World River City.
Early finger-pointing began among companies involved in the oil
rig explosion on the eve of the first congressional hearings into
the accident. A top American executive for BP, Lamar McKay, said a
critical safety device known as a blowout-preventer failed
catastrophically. Separately, the owner of the rig off Louisiana's
coast said that BP managed it and was responsible for all work
conducted at the site. A third company defended work that it
performed on the deepwater oil well as "accepted industry
practice" prior to last month's explosion.