05.27.2010

The “top kill” effort, launched Wednesday afternoon by industry and government engineers, had pumped enough drilling fluid to block oil and gas spewing from the well, said Coast Guard Commandant Thad Allen, who is heading the federal response to the spill said, said on Thursday morning.  “The pressure from the well was very low, he said, but persisting.”

Once engineers had reduced the well pressure to zero, they will begin pumping cement into the hole to plug  the leak of the blow out preventer.

As of this point; however,  neither government nor BP officials had declared the effort a success yet, pending the completion of the cementing and sealing of the well.

The first ship containing 50,000 barrels of the mud mixture reportedly ran out early Thursday, although a second boat was on the way. Coast Guard officials and BP engineers on the scene said they were hopeful the process could be labeled a full success once cement was pumped in to fully block the pipe within the next few hours.

Allen said one ship that was pumping fluid into the well had run out of the fluid, or “mud,” and that a second ship was on the way. He said he was encouraged by the progress.

“We’ll get this under control,” he said.

Meanwhile, United State Geological Survey Director Marcia McNutt, chair the Flow Rate Technical Group, declared this morning that the flow rate was that of 12,000 to 19,000 barrels a day (approx 18 million to 28 million gallons of oil)- a far jump from the latest revised estimate of 5,000 barrels per day.

That would make the 36-day leak by far the worst in U.S. history, surpassing the Exxon Valdez disaster, which spilled 11 million gallons into Alaska’s Prince William Sound in 1989.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal took another boat tour of the oil spill area Wednesday and later repeated his call to get federal permission to dredge sand and create barrier islands to protect inland estuaries.

Louisiana officials say they can’t wait any longer, as more oil seeps into delicate marshlands in Pass a l’Outre.  “We don’t need to see a repeat of some of the situation we’ve seen recently,” Jindal said at Cypress Cove after surveying the damage for about four hours.

He said if BP and the Coast Guard don’t come up with a solution to removing marsh oil by Saturday, officials will move forward with their own action plan. “Our way of life in coastal Louisiana depends on it,” Jindal said.

Plaquemines Parish President Bobby Nungesser said that if nothing is done by Saturday at 8 a.m., officials will bring out a suction machine to gather excess oil. He said the spill will have the impact of the past four hurricanes in the area. “Once again we were dealt an untruth,” Nungesser said. “How much more are we going to put up with?”

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