BP sprays more chemicals into Gulf

The Associated Press ~ staff The News
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Environment

A remote-controlled submarine shot a chemical dispersant into the maw of a massive undersea oil leak Monday, further evidence that authorities expect the gusher to keep erupting into the Gulf of Mexico for weeks or more.

Crews using the deep-sea robot attempted to thin the oil - which is rushing up from the seabed at a pace of about 795,000 litres per day - after getting approval from the Environmental Protection Agency, BP PLC officials said.

A remote-controlled submarine shot a chemical dispersant into the maw of a massive undersea oil leak Monday, further evidence that authorities expect the gusher to keep erupting into the Gulf of Mexico for weeks or more.

Crews using the deep-sea robot attempted to thin the oil - which is rushing up from the seabed at a pace of about 795,000 litres per day - after getting approval from the Environmental Protection Agency, BP PLC officials said.

Two previous tests of the dispersant were done to determine the potential effect on the environment, and the third round of spraying began early Monday and it will last 24 hours.

The EPA said in a statement the effects of the chemicals were still widely unknown.

BP engineers, casting about after an ice buildup thwarted their plan to siphon off most of the leak using a 100-tonne containment box, pushed ahead with other potential short-term solutions, including using a smaller box and injecting the leak with junk to plug it. Chief operating officer Doug Suttles said they hope to have the smaller containment device in place by the end of the week.

However, none of these attempts has been tried so deep - about a 1.6 kilometres down. Workers were simultaneously drilling a relief well, the solution considered most permanent, but that was to take up to three months.

At least 13.25 million litres were believed to have leaked since an April 20 drilling rig blast killed 11. If the gusher continues unabated, it would surpass the Exxon Valdez disaster as the nation's worst spill by late June.

Back on land, National Guard helicopters ferried loads of one-tonne sandbags to plug gaps in barrier islands that have been lapped at by a sheen of oil. The effort to bolster the islands was meant to safeguard the area's vulnerable wetlands.

Authorities also planned to use south Louisiana's system of locks and levees to release water to help keep the worst of the oil at sea.

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 and 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.

Among plans under consideration for the gusher, BP is looking at cutting the riser pipe, which extends from the well undersea and using larger piping to bring the gushing oil to a drill ship on the surface, a tactic considered difficult and less desirable because it will increase the flow of oil.

Organizations: BP, Environmental Protection Agency, Exxon Valdez National Guard

Geographic location: Gulf of Mexico, Louisiana, Gulf Coast

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Recent comments

  • Jay
    July 02, 2010 - 13:18

    Steve, You are kidding right? You actually think Chevron has taken the necessary steps? The governemnt didn't care and Chevron doesn't either. It saves money if you don't and pray this never happens.

  • Steve
    July 02, 2010 - 13:10

    My first advice for BP - Call Chevron, apparently they all the safety equipment necessary in case of a well blow out, at least that is what they are proclaiming here in Newfoundland and Labrador.

    I am sure they must be telling the truth or they wouldn't be drilling a new well in some of the deepest water off of our coast.

    Seriously, call Chevron they have all of the answers.

  • Jay
    July 01, 2010 - 19:59

    Steve, You are kidding right? You actually think Chevron has taken the necessary steps? The governemnt didn't care and Chevron doesn't either. It saves money if you don't and pray this never happens.

  • Steve
    July 01, 2010 - 19:45

    My first advice for BP - Call Chevron, apparently they all the safety equipment necessary in case of a well blow out, at least that is what they are proclaiming here in Newfoundland and Labrador.

    I am sure they must be telling the truth or they wouldn't be drilling a new well in some of the deepest water off of our coast.

    Seriously, call Chevron they have all of the answers.