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Jun 25, 2010 9:54 AM by Sharlee Barriere

More Evidence of Gulf Oil Spill Washes Ashore

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - More dirty evidence of the massive oil spill
washed ashore along the Gulf Coast for residents who don't need any
more reminders of their frustration over failed efforts to stop the
crude gushing from a blown-out undersea well.
In Florida, officials on Thursday closed a quarter-mile stretch
of Pensacola Beach not far from the Alabama line when thick pools
of oil washed up, the first time a beach in the state has been shut
because of the spill. A large patch of oil oozed into Mississippi
Sound, the fertile waters between the barrier islands and mainland
of a state that has mostly been spared.
The news came as a cap collecting oil from the well was back in
place after a deep-sea robot bumped it and engineers concerned
about escaping gas removed it for about 10 hours Wednesday.
Even before that latest setback, the government's worst-case
estimates suggested the cap and other equipment were capturing less
than half of the oil leaking from the seafloor. And in recent days,
the "spillcam" video continued to show gas and oil billowing from
the well.
BP's pronouncements that it would soon be able to collect more
spewing oil have "absolutely no credibility," Jefferson Parish
Councilman John Young said. The latest problem shows "they really
are not up to the task and we have more bad news than we have good
news."
BP officials said they sympathized and planned to do more.
"For BP, our intent is to restore the Gulf the way it was
before it happened," BP PLC managing director Bob Dudley, who has
taken over the company's spill operations, said in Washington.
BP shares fell sharply in London on Friday following the
company's announcement that the cost of responding to the Gulf of
Mexico oil leak has risen to $2.35 billion. The share price dipped
as low as 296.6 pence ($4.42) during morning trading, an 8.9
percent drop and the lowest for BP since August 1996. By 2 p.m. in
London, shares had bounced back to 310 pence, still below half of
the 655 pence price on April 20, the day of the oil rig explosion
that led to the oil spill.
In other developments:
- The federal judge who struck down the Obama administration's
six-month ban on deep-water drilling in the Gulf refused to stay
his ruling while the government appeals.
- Environmental groups asked the court to release additional
information about U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman's holdings in
oil-related stocks.
- Dudley said BP had asked James Lee Witt, director of the
Federal Emergency Management Agency during the Clinton
administration, to review its response to the oil spill and
recommend improvements.
At nearly every important juncture since the Deepwater Horizon
rig exploded April 20, killing 11 workers, the government's and
BP's estimates on the size of the spill, its effect on wildlife and
the time frame for containing it have spectacularly missed the
mark.
On June 8, BP chief operating office Doug Suttles said the spill
should be reduced to a "relative trickle" in less than a week. BP
later said it would take more time for the spill to reach a
trickle.
President Barack Obama told the nation last week that as much as
90 percent would soon be captured, saying the company had informed
him that was how much of the oil could be kept out of the water
within weeks.
"It just doesn't look like that's in the cards," said Ed
Overton, a retired professor of environmental science at Louisiana
State University. "We're not even close to that, and the word
today is that they were capturing less than the day before. I was
hoping the president knew something that the rest of us didn't
know. I mean, he was talking to the big shots."
BP said Thursday it was gradually ramping back up to capture
about 700,000 gallons a day with the cap, and burning off an
additional 438,000 a day using an incinerator ship. Worst-case
government estimates are that about 2.5 million gallons are leaking
from the well, though no one really knows for sure.
By mid- to late July, the company hopes to have the capacity to
capture up to 3.3 million gallons a day, if that much is flowing,
BP spokesman John Curry said.
It cannot all be done immediately, Curry said, because the
logistics of positioning four giant ships capable of collecting oil
and connecting them to the seafloor are complicated. "There's a
limit to the number of ships in the world that do these type of
things," he said.
None of those efforts is expected to stop the leak entirely. The
soonest that would happen is late August, which is when BP says
relief wells being drilled through thousands of feet of rock
beneath the seabed will reach the gusher.
August seems a long way off to many.
Along Pensacola Beach, lifeguard Collin Cobia wore a red
handkerchief over his nose and mouth to block the oil smell. "It's
enough to knock you down," he said.
Others weren't happy about the situation but declined to
second-guess the BP engineers.
"I have no clue at all about the correct way to stop it," said
Rocky Ditcharo, a seafood dock owner in Louisiana's Plaquemines
Parish. "`Powerless' - that's a good word for it."

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