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Gulf awaits word on latest bid to plug oil leak

 Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, center, speaks at a press conference in Galliano, La., Monday, May 24, 2010. Standing behind Salazar are Sen. David V...
 Graphic shows percentage of U.S. oil production from offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico
 President Barack Obama, escorted by Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Terrance Gainer, waves as he arrives on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, May 25, 2010...
 A woman who asked not to be identified holds ribbons with eleven stars that were given attendees to the memorial service honoring the eleven men who ...
 An attendee at the memorial service honoring the eleven men who died in the offshore rig explosion that triggered the Gulf oil spill holds programs a...
 Douglas Inkley, left, from the National Wildlife Federation, stands near oil-soaked vegetation on an island impacted by oil from the Deepwater Horizo...
 Oil absorbent material boom and oil from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill is seen on Elmer's Island in Grand Isle, La. on Tuesday, May 25, 2010. (AP P...
 An image from a  live video feed the oil plume is seen on the BP.com website early Wednesday, May 26, 2010. The oil company planned a "top kill" desi...
 Senate Energy and natural Resources Committee Chairman Sen. Jeff Bingham, D-N.M., left, and the committee's ranking Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R...

Gulf Oil Spill

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, center, speaks at a press conference in Galliano, La., Monday, May 24, 2010. Standing behind Salazar are Sen. David V...

GULF OFFSHORE DRILLING

Graphic shows percentage of U.S. oil production from offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico

Obama Republicans

President Barack Obama, escorted by Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Terrance Gainer, waves as he arrives on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, May 25, 2010...

APTOPIX Oil Spill Memorial

A woman who asked not to be identified holds ribbons with eleven stars that were given attendees to the memorial service honoring the eleven men who ...

Oil Spill Memorial

An attendee at the memorial service honoring the eleven men who died in the offshore rig explosion that triggered the Gulf oil spill holds programs a...

Gulf Oil Spill

Douglas Inkley, left, from the National Wildlife Federation, stands near oil-soaked vegetation on an island impacted by oil from the Deepwater Horizo...

Gulf Oil Spill

Oil absorbent material boom and oil from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill is seen on Elmer's Island in Grand Isle, La. on Tuesday, May 25, 2010. (AP P...

Oil Spill

An image from a live video feed the oil plume is seen on the BP.com website early Wednesday, May 26, 2010. The oil company planned a "top kill" desi...

Gulf Oil Spill

Senate Energy and natural Resources Committee Chairman Sen. Jeff Bingham, D-N.M., left, and the committee's ranking Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R...

After BP began pumping heavy mud into the leaking well in the Gulf of Mexico, executives said that there had been no problems so far, but they said engineers would not know until at least Thursday afternoon whether the latest remedy was having some success.
If the risky procedure, known as a top kill, stops the flow, BP would then inject cement into the well to seal it. The top kill has worked above ground but has never before been tried 5,000 feet (1,500 meters) beneath the sea. BP pegged its chance of success at 60 to 70 percent.
"We're doing everything we can to bring it to closure, and actually we're executing this top kill job as efficiently and effectively as we can," BP Chief Operating Officer Doug Suttles said.
Fishermen, hotel and restaurant owners, politicians and residents along the coast are fed up with BP's failures to stop the oil that is coating Louisiana's marshes and the wildlife that relies on them. The anger has turned toward President Barack Obama and his administration. Polls show the public is souring on their handling of the catastrophe.
The gusher, which has spewed 7 million gallons (26.5 million liters) of crude by the most conservative tallies, began after an offshore drilling rig exploded April 20, killing 11 workers. Dozens of witness statements obtained by The Associated Press show a combination of equipment failure and a deference to the chain of command aboard the rig impeded the system that should have stopped the gusher before it became an environmental disaster.
Additional leaks springing from the top kill solution were a grave risk, said Anil Kulkarni, a mechanical engineering professor at Penn State.
"One scenario is that it may make things worse," Kulkarni said. "If it ruptures all over, then it would be even more difficult to close it."
Suttles said BP had not detected any new leaks as of Wednesday night.
He said within the next day, if oil stops flowing to the surface, then engineers will know the drilling fluid being pumped in was starting to work. Engineers were monitoring the well's pressure readings constantly to determine how much oil was escaping.
If not, the company had several backup plans, including sealing the well's blowout preventer with a smaller cap. An earlier attempt to cap the blowout preventer failed. BP could also try a "junk shot" _ shooting golf balls and other debris into the blowout preventer to clog it up _ during the top kill process.
Last week, the company inserted a mile-(1.6 kilometer) long tube to siphon some of the oil into a tanker. The tube sucked up 924,000 gallons (3.5 million liters) of oil, but engineers had to dismantle it during the top kill.
A permanent solution would be to drill a second well to stop the leak, but that was expected to take a couple months.
Some 100 miles (160 kilometers) of Louisiana coastline had been hit by the oil, the Coast Guard said.
When will they stop the oil and can they? They were questions on the lips of residents in Grand Isle at the bottom tip of Louisiana.
"Certainly there's hope. But the reality for us is that whether they cap it or not, we're still going to have an ecological and economic disaster down here, one that we don't know whether or not we'll be in a position to recover," Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand said.
In Pass a Loutre, the odor wafting above the oily water was that of an auto shop.
"There's no wildlife in Pass a Loutre. It's all dead," Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser said.
Louisiana-raised Democratic strategist James Carville has been critical of the administration response and hoped Obama's visit Friday would change that.
"I think you're going to see some real action," once the president sees the oiled coast, Carville said.
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Online:
http://globalwarming.house.gov/spillcam


Updated : 2021-04-21 08:06 GMT+08:00