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Gulf oil spill: Well remains sealed, test extended by 24 hours

The federal oil-spill response chief Saturday extended by 24 hours a crucial test to measure the sturdiness of BP's troubled gulf oil well and to determine whether it is safe to keep a tight seal on top of it.

In a news release, retired Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen said the 48 hours of testing to that point had provided "valuable information, which will inform the procedure to kill the well." Experts, he said, wanted to continue monitoring the results a little longer.

But Allen's statement did not answer a key question: Will the government and BP decide to keep the well sealed in at the top until crews can plug it up far underground using a relief well? The relief well seal, which Allen called "the ultimate step in stopping the BP oil leak for good," may not happen until mid-August.

Using a massive custom-made cap, BP was able to fully seal the well Thursday, after 85 straight days of gushing crude had created one of the nation's worst environmental disasters. But federal officials are concerned that there may be cracks in the well's underground pipes -- and that a full seal might exacerbate the flow of oil out of those cracks, creating even more leaks on the the ocean floor.

Federal officials at the spill response media center in New Orleans could not clarify Allen's comments, and a BP spokesman declined to comment on them. In a news conference earlier in the day, BP Senior Vice President Kent Wells said there was "no evidence" so far that the well was damaged or leaking.

There were some hints about potential strategies going forward. Allen's five-paragraph statement noted that the test had given officials a "better understanding of options for temporary shut-in during a hurricane." A "shut-in" refers to a full seal of the leaking well.    

That seemed to indicate that experts may be considering taking up as much oil as they can using a series of pipes and containment ships, and sealing the well off only when storms force the ships to move to safe harbor. The troubled Gulf of Mexico well, which, according to government estimates, had been leaking up to 60,000 barrels of oil a day until the seal, is about 50 miles off Louisiana; historically, the peak of hurricane season lasts from August to October.

--Richard Fausset in Atlanta

Comments () | Archives (4)

The comments to this entry are closed.

WHAT ABOUT THE OTHER HOLE!!!!!!!, the one in the ocean floor about a mile away.

Common folks, BP is scum and this aint over yet, stop patting yourselves on the back we need to close the other hole as well.

>>> SCOOP: The tool able to stop the oil spill in the early days of May!!! >>>

Its about time. Nothing like 5 million barrels of oil polluting the ocean and a cap that should of been there months ago.

How can we believe the US Coast Guard ?

We need a comment from the Coast Guard Rear Admiral Mary Landry

Landry’s done this before—she oversaw the 2003 spill in Buzzards Bay, Massachussets . Then, as now, her initial reports of the spill total were way off. Landry, a Coast Guard rear admiral, has gone from taking reporters’ questions at the White House to giving reporters tours of the damage, but there are also reports that the Coast Guard is keeping reporters and photographers from getting a full picture - and doing so at the behest of BP. (The Coast Guard says they are accommodating as many media requests as they can; Landry hasn't commented).

We have got to ask how the response to the Gulf of Mexico spill compares to the 2003 Bouchard B 120 oil spill in Buzzards Bay,Massaacusetts?

Two things come to mind. First the U.S.Court of appeals never allowed the state of Massachusetts to enforce the Massachusetts Oil Spill Prevention Act of 2004. The Coast Guard appealed the rules because of an intercoastal turf war leaving the state with no new laws to protect the bay. Second the residential property claims of thousands of residents have been tied up in the Massachusetts court system for the past eight years. How will residential property owners around the gulf have to wait?

On April 27, 2003, eight years ago the Bouchard Barge B-120 hit an obstacle in Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts creating a 12-foot rupture in its hull and discharging an estimated 100,000 gallons of No. 6 oil.


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