Another teleconference was held, in which I participated in, with the Department of  Interior, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA),  Coastguard, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), British Petroleum (BP) and TransOcean.

All response efforts are being considered and over 700 vessels have been brought in to respond.  All fishermen looking to be compensated for their monetary loses can cash in on a new program, instituted by BP, called “Vessel of Opportunities”.  Sign up information can be found by calling 281-366-5511.

Amongst other things, 9 remote operated vehicles were deployed to the sea floor to stop the flow of oil but to no avail. The oil continues to pour out at a rate of approximately 200,00 gallons of oil every day and extensive efforts have been put forth around the clock to close the oil leak at it’s source.

The suggestion earlier this morning that an annular ram, which clamps around the drill pipe and shuts off flow in and around the drill pipe, has caused a significant reduction in oil flow is inaccurate.  The rescue response remains time critical.

The most recent approach – cutting the riser at the wellhead, sliding a huge piece of equipment called the riser package out of the way and bolting a second blowout preventer atop the first one to stop the flow of oil-  is hoped to be completed today.

34.5 hours ago, a dispersant was released at the source of the leak in an attempt to break up the oil before it reaches the surface.  Officials are currently waiting overflight data to determine if this attempt has been effective.  The long term effect of the dispersant in deepwater ecology has not been determined. Overflight effectiveness of the oil dispersant will be evaluated today.

An impromptu coast line solution was implemented in installing chemical-filled barriers around portions of Dauphin Island to mitigate the potential damage from the Gulf oil spill as it approaches the Alabama coast. Once the oil seeps into the barrier, the chemical absorbs the oil and solidifies. The solid waste can then be disposed and refilled with more chemicals.

A relief well, the primary long term solution, has been deployed and started drilling at 18,000 feet below the surface yesterday around 3pm CDT.  This relief well will tap into the same oil reserve; thus relieving the broken well of it’s pressure and eliminating the spewing of additional oil into the Gulf of Mexico.  However, significant results of  this external drilling will take anywhere from 2-3 months.

A cofferdam-like dome structure, the primary short term solution, is a work in progress.  This method lowers a dome into the water and is placed over each of the leaks which, in return,  funnels the oil into a containment chamber on the Enterprise drill ship.

The problem remains that this collection dome has only been tested in shallow waters. The effectiveness of this dome at greater depths in an unknown but officials continue to remain hopeful. The fabricated chamber will be loaded tomorrow and operating by 03.10.2010 instead of the 2-4 weeks construction as initially suggested.

It is important to note that this projected date is only applicable for the *main* leak point as the other two chambers have yet to be constructed.

An additional threat has been brought to light in regards to the Gulf of Mexico’s loop current. This warm water current sets up in the Gulf of Mexico and flows out through the Florida Straights, past the Keys and joins the Gulf Stream on the East Coast of Florida.  It has been suggested that the oil slick could venture into the loop current within 24 hours, dependent on the wind direction.

Winds are expected to come from the SouthWest and than Northern direction. These winds are expected to hold the oil slick off in the Gulf for another day. However, SouthEast winds are expected to prevail which will then cause a potential threat the surrounding coastline.

At this point, the winds have impressioned the waves to bring forth animals upon the shoreline from Biloxi to Bay St. Louis in Mississippi.  Fish, seagulls, pelicans and, most notably, a group of 20 sea turtles including  Kemps ridley turtles, which are endangered species washed up dead on the shore. The determine cause of death is being investigated; however, it is suggested the the animals came into contact with noxious fumes or eat fish that housed oil.

The root of the problem appears to be a towering stack of heavy equipment 5,000 feet below the surface of the gulf known as a blowout preventer. It is a steel-framed stack of valves, rams, housings, tanks and hydraulic tubing that is designed to seal the well quickly in the event of a burst of pressure.

It was said that while the ram closed, they did not seal properly and; therefore, allowed natural gas to escape causing a pressure imbalance.  There has been no additional responsibility placed at this time but an investigation into the root cause of this accident is underway. (Watch for a flood of fingers pointing to Halliburton, a defense contractor in charge of cementing the rig in addition to BP).

No oil has been reported to have reached the coastline as of date and the weather is forecasted to calm down this week which will allow skimming, fly over dispersant and the talks of controlled burning  to be viable short term relief options.

Until then, people are urged to hold out hope, have faith and be on the offensive.  Additionally, HAZMAT training is being offered in several key areas for Gulf Coast volunteers who are wanting to assist the oiled wildlife.  Amongst other training centers, HAZMAT training started this weekend in Pensacola, FL and will continue into this coming week. Further, the Emerald Coast Wildlife Refuge is accepting donations to aid the injured animals affected.  Please visit: http://www.ecwildliferefuge.com for more information.

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