BP oil company has announced its first major success in containing a massive oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico. Engineers inserted a metal tube into a broken pipe on the sea floor, to siphon oil into a ship on the surface.
BP engineers implemented the fix after other efforts failed over the past three weeks. BP Vice President Kent Wells says the method will reduce the amount of oil spewing into the water. "What we've done is the oil and gas have been leaking out through the end of the riser. And what we've done is submit a tool in the end of the riser to start to extract some of that flow and bring it directly to the drill ship so it never enters into the Gulf of Mexico," he said.
BP says a more complete solution is needed. The next step is to try to pump mud and other materials to the sea floor and block the well. "Our anticipation is that it will be another seven to ten days to complete all of the preparations that we need to exercise this option and then at that point, we'll pump the kill mud and hopefully have this well killed, and well shut off, and the flow shut off," he said.
Cleanup work continues across parts of Louisiana and other states hit by the oil. Scientists worry the crisis will spread, as the oil moves with underwater currents in the Gulf.
Vernon Asper of the University of Southern Mississippi says much of the oil is under the surface, where it cannot be monitored. "The oil, as you can see, has depth. It's not only the size of Manhattan in area, but it is several hundred meters in depth," he said.
The crisis has halted fishing in eastern parts of Louisiana. But fishing waters remain open in western parts of the state, for now. Clayton Marena is watching and worrying about the future. "Hopefully, they get it capped off and we don't have to worry about it over here. It hadn't made it over here yet. Hopefully it won't," he said.
Speaking Monday, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano addressed the crisis.
"I think we need to just say, look, we are at the middle of this crisis. We are not at the beginning. We've been at it for a month. But we're not near the end, as well. And in my view, our job is to just keep moving. Keep assembling, deploying, preparing, cleaning," she said.