Gulf oil spill: Cap starts doing its job, but officials remain cautious
Efforts to contain the flood of oil into the Gulf of Mexico showed the first signs of progress as 6,000 barrels of oil were pumped to the surface after the fitting of a containment cap over the blown well, officials said Saturday, but it was an incremental step that offered no guarantees of long-term success.
At a morning news briefing, Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, commander of the national response to the disaster, said BP officials still had not closed the four vents of the containment cap, which would allow the well to begin pumping oil to the surface at far greater capacity.In the meantime, thousands of gallons of oil are flowing into the sea as the massive slick hits shorelines and marshalnd in areas including Louisiana’s fishing towns and Florida’s white-sand beaches, where rust-colored globs are began washing ashore. Allen said it was crucial to close the vents slowly to avoid putting too much pressure on the cap, which is being held in place with the help of a rubber gasket. “They’re easing the pressure up to the vessel … so they can maintain control of the oil,” said Allen.
-- Tina Susman, reporting from New Orleans
PHOTO: The relief well being drilled at the worksite of Deepwater Horizon on June 2, 2010. BP has now asked for international assistance in skimming oil. CREDIT: Carolyn Cole/LA Times