News / USA

BP to Deploy Latest Fix for Gulf Oil Leak

BP oil company is preparing to deploy its latest effort to cap an undersea well that is leaking oil in the Gulf of Mexico. New underwater video of the leak is raising questions about the extent of the problem.

BP engineers say the current effort involves placing a tube inside a broken oil pipe that has been leaking oil for the past four weeks. Engineers hope the tube, which is fitted with a rubber cap, will enable them to pump most of the oil to a surface ship.

Coast Guard Commander Thad Allen said the tube is one of several techniques that BP is developing to stop the leak.

"I would caution everyone that this is a leak mitigation effort," said Admiral Allen. "It is not intended to completely capture all the oil that is leaking from there.  But it should substantially reduce it, if it is successful."

BP representatives say a permanent fix for the leak is to drill a new well, which could take three months.

Earlier this week, BP released video from a remote controlled submarine, which showed oil spewing from a gash in the undersea pipe.  Some scientists and oil experts say the video shows that far more oil is leaking than official estimates of 5,000 barrels a day.  BP representatives say that number is hard to determine, because the leak is 1.5 kilometers below the surface.

Commander Allen says the debate over leak estimates has not affected the response from the U.S. Coast Guard.

"Whether it was one, five, 10 or 15 [thousand barrels of oil], our mobilization of resources has been for something far beyond that, because we are always prepared for a catastrophic event," he said.

Since the leak began last month, researchers at the University of Miami have been using satellite images images to track the oil spill on the surface. Imaging expert Hans Graber says initial data suggested there was at least 5,000 barrels leaking a day, and probably more.

He says bad weather has made it hard to estimate the leak rate, but the latest imagery shows the slick now covers 9,000 square kilometers.

"There is clearly a lot coming out," he said. "What we don't know is how much is evaporating or even staying below the surface."

Scientists say it is important to understand the size of the leak to prepare measures to combat it.  BP oil company has been spraying chemicals to disperse the oil in the water, where they say microorganisms will break it down over time.

Researchers say the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico may speed that process.  But oceanographer Jennifer Cherrier of Florida A&M University says it may not be that simple. In her research, she has found that some parts of the Florida coastline have microorganisms that break down oil, while others do not.

Cherrier says it is unclear how the oil will affect the diverse regions of the gulf, and the growth of oil-eating microorganisms.

"Would they grow in, if they were continually exposed [to oil]?  Probably," said Jennifer Cherrier. "Would they eat the oil at the rate that we want to see it eaten?  Probably not."

So far, BP oil company says it has spent $450 million to fight the oil spill. The final cost of clean-up work and compensation payments is expected to be several billion dollars.

A map of some of the world's worst oil spills

You May Like

Turkey's Controversial Reform Bill Giving Investors Jitters

Homeland security reform bill will give police new powers in search, seizure, detention and arrests, while restricting the rights of suspects, their attorneys More

Audio Slideshow In Kenyan Prison, Good Grades Are Path to Freedom

Some inmates who get high marks could see their sentences commuted to non-custodial status More

'Rumble in the Jungle' Turns 40

'The Champ' knocked Foreman out to regain crown he had lost 7 years earlier when US government accused him of draft-dodging and boxing officials revoked his license More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisiai
X
Henry Ridgwell
October 30, 2014 11:39 PM
Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisia

Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Africa Tells its Story Through Fashion

In Africa, Fashion Week is a riot of colors, shapes, patterns and fabrics - against the backdrop of its ongoing struggle between nature and its fast-growing urban edge. How do these ideas translate into needle and thread? VOA’s Anita Powell visited this year’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa in Johannesburg to find out.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.

All About America

AppleAndroid