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

India PM Modi's Party Distances Itself From Religious Conversions

BJP under fire for being slow to rein in hardline affiliate groups allegedly trying to promote Hindu-dominant agenda by luring Muslims and Christians to convert More

Anti-Whaling Group Found in Contempt of Court

Radical environmentalists who threw acid and smoke bombs at Japanese whalers in the waters off Antarctica continue their campaign to disrupt Japan's annual whale hunt More

UN's Ban Urges End to Discrimination Against Ebola Workers

Ban was speaking in Guinea on the second day of a whistle-stop tour aimed at thanking healthcare workers of the countries at the heart of the epidemic 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.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid