News

May 3, 2010 6:21 PM by Letitia Walker

Monday: Oil Clean-Up Update

 

VENICE, La. (AP) - BP PLC said Monday that it will pay for all

the cleanup costs from a massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico

that could continue spewing crude for at least another week.

      The company posted a fact sheet on its Web site saying it took

responsibility for the response to the Deepwater Horizon spill and

would pay compensation for legitimate claims for property damage,

personal injury and commercial losses.

      "We are responsible, not for the accident, but we are

responsible for the oil and for dealing with it and cleaning the

situation up," chief executive Tony Hayward said Monday on ABC's

"Good Morning America." He said the equipment that failed on the

rig and led to the spill belonged to owner Transocean Ltd., not BP,

which operated the rig.

      Meanwhile, Hayward said chemical dispersants seem to be having a

significant impact keeping oil from flowing to the surface, though

he did not elaborate.

      The update on the dispersants came as BP was preparing a system

never tried nearly a mile under water to siphon away the geyser of

crude from a blown-out well a mile underwater. However, the plan to

lower 74-ton, concrete-and-metal boxes being built to capture the

oil and siphon it to a barge waiting at the surface will need at

least another six to eight days to get it in place.

      Officials also were trying to cap one of the three leaks to make

it easier to place the first box one the sea floor.

      Crews continued to lay boom in what increasingly feels like a

futile effort to slow down the spill, though choppy seas have made

that difficult and rendered much of the oil-corraling gear useless.

      "I've been in Pensacola and I am very, very concerned about

this filth in the Gulf of Mexico," Florida Gov. Charlie Crist said

at a fundraiser for his U.S. Senate campaign Sunday night. "It's

not a spill, it's a flow. Envision sort of an underground volcano

of oil and it keeps spewing over 200,000 gallons every single day,

if not more."

      Fishermen from the mouth of the Mississippi River to the Florida

Panhandle got the news that more than 6,800 square miles of federal

fishing areas were closed, fracturing their livelihood for at least

10 days and likely more just as the prime spring season was kicking

in. The slick also was precariously close to a key shipping lane

that feeds goods and materials to the interior of the U.S. by the

Mississippi River.

      Even if the well is shut off in a week, fishermen and wildlife

officials wonder how long it will take for the Gulf to recover.

Some compare it to Hurricane Katrina, which Louisiana is still

recovering from after nearly five years.

      "My kids will be talking about the effect of this when they're

my age," said 41-year-old Venice charter boat captain Bob Kenney.

      Everything engineers have tried so far has failed. After the

April 20 oil rig explosion, which killed 11 people, the flow of oil

should have been stopped by a blowout preventer, but the mechanism

failed. Efforts to remotely activate it have proven fruitless.

      The oil could keep gushing for months until a second well can be

dug to relieve pressure from the first.

      Besides the immediate impact on Gulf industries, shipping along

the Mississippi River could soon be limited. Ships carrying food,

oil, rubber and much more come through the Southwest Pass to enter

the vital waterway.

      Shipment delays - either because oil-splattered ships need to be

cleaned off at sea before docking or because water lanes are shut

down for a time - would raise the cost of transporting those goods.

      "We saw that during Hurricane Katrina for a period of time - we

saw some prices go up for food and other goods because they

couldn't move some fruit down the shipping channels and it got

spoiled," PFGBest analyst Phil Flynn said.

      The Port of New Orleans said projections suggest the pass will

be clear through Tuesday.

      President Barack Obama toured the region Sunday, deflecting

criticism that his administration was too slow to respond and did

too little to stave off the catastrophe.

      A piece of plywood along a Louisiana highway had these words

painted on it: "OBAMA SEND HELP!!!!"

      The blessing of the boats is normally a joyous kickoff to the

spring fishing season in St. Bernard Parish. But this year, it had

more the air of a funeral.

      Some years, as many as 200 craft, most of them working boats,

lined up at the Gulf Outlet Marina to be sprinkled with holy water

by a priest. On Sunday, only four boats floated by - and not one a

commercial vessel.

      Capt. Doogie Robin, 84, sat at a bar, sipping a Budweiser from

the jaws of an alligator-head beer cozy. He runs eight oyster

boats.

      "Katrina really hit us hard," he said. "And this here, I

think this is going to finish us now. I think this will wipe us off

the map."

      The Coast Guard and BP have said it's nearly impossible to know

exactly how much oil has gushed since the blast, though it has been

roughly estimated to be at least 200,000 gallons a day.

      At that rate, it would eclipse the 1989 Exxon Valdez tanker

spill - which dumped 11 million gallons off the Alaska coast - as

the worst U.S. oil disaster in history in a matter of weeks.

      Even if the oil stays mostly offshore, the consequences could be

dire for sea turtles, dolphins and other deepwater marine life -

and microscopic plankton and tiny creatures that are a staple of

larger animals' diets.

      Moby Solangi, director of the Institute for Marine Mammal

Studies in Gulfport, Miss., said at least 20 dead sea turtles were

found on the state's beaches. He said it's too soon to say whether

oil contamination killed them but that it is unusual to have them

turning up across such a wide stretch of coast, nearly 30 miles.

      Some experts also have said oil could get into the Gulf Stream

and flow to the beaches of Florida - and potentially whip around

the state's southern tip and up the Eastern Seaboard.

Tourist-magnet beaches and countless wildlife could be ruined.

      Obama has halted any new offshore drilling projects unless rigs

have new safeguards to prevent another disaster.

      The containment boxes being built were not part of BP's original

response plan. The approach has been used previously only for

spills in relatively shallow water. Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen

said engineers are still examining whether the valves and other

systems that feed oil to a ship on the surface can withstand the

extra pressures of the deep.

      BP was trying to cap the smallest of three leaks with underwater

robots in the hope it will make it easier to place a single

oil-siphoning container over the wreck. One of the robots cut the

damaged end off a pipe at the smallest leak Sunday and officials

were hoping to cap it with a sleeve and valve, Coast Guard

spokesman Brandon Blackwell said Monday. He did not know how much

oil was coming from that leak.

      "We see this as an opportunity to simplify the seafloor mission

a little bit, so we're working this aggressively," BP spokesman

Steve Rinehart said.

      BP has not said how much oil is beneath the seabed the Deepwater

Horizon rig was tapping when it exploded. A company official,

speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to

discuss the volume of reserves, confirmed reports that it was tens

of millions of barrels. Bob Fryar, senior vice president for BP in

Angola, said any numbers being thrown out are just estimates at

best.

      Peter Young has worked nearly 18 years as a fishing guide and

said he's afraid his way of life may be slipping away. The

government has overreacted by shutting down vital fishing areas in

the marshes, he said.

      Until he sees oil himself, Young will keep fishing the closed

areas.

      "They can take me to jail," he said. "This is our livelihood.

I'm not going to take customers into oil, but until I see it, I

can't sit home and not work."

 

»Comments

»Topics in this article

Top Videos

1 2 3 4

Most Popular