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Officials Rush to Prepare Gulf Coast as Winds Hold Off Oil Spill

MOBILE, Ala. - Luck was with emergency responders Tuesday as winds continued to push the surface sheen of an ongoing oil disaster off shore and allowed time for further preparation all along the Gulf Coast.

The favorable weather kept the surface spill more than 30 miles offshore.

Florida Gov. Charlie Crist said it's not a matter of if but when oil from the "ginormous oil volcano" impacts Florida shores. Initial impact - now forecast for Thursday - will only be the first of successive and ongoing effects.

"This is going to be with us a long time," Crist said aboard a Florida Air National Guard C-130 plane that ferried him over British Petroleum's Deepwater Horizon well site. It was Crist's third flight over the spill that's now more than 600 miles around.

"It just grows every time," Crist said.

But weather is favoring preparations on the Gulf Coast.

"We have been given the gift of time," said Coast Guard Rear Adm. Mary Landry, leading the Unified Command Center here, where more than 350 federal, state and BP personnel are coordinating the spill response. The favorable weather, Landry said, will "allow us to continue (to use) very aggressive, very robust resources.

Nothing was done to stem more than 200,000 gallons a day belching into the Gulf from nearly a mile down. The best-case scenario means control of the spill is at least a week away.

BP Chief Operating Office Doug Suttles said a dome to cover and contain the spill is being constructed in Louisiana and will take two days to ship to the site in the Gulf. Suttles said efforts to place the container could start this weekend.

Keith Seilhan, BP's operations director for the Gulf, told Crist the dome is "caveman technology" that uses a 125-ton, four-story steel and concrete container that will be dropped on top of the leak to contain the spewing oil and treat it. A BP release said the system, if effective, could collect as much of 85 percent of the oil released from the blown well.

But it's less than certain it will work.

The company is also moving forward with plans to drill a relief well that would intersect the 7-inch well that's leaking now.

Oil wasn't the only thing BP had flowing. It also sent $25 million each to four Gulf Coast states, including Florida, to help pay for preparation and recovery.

Crist said "we'll eat through that fairly quickly."

Crist was critical Monday of action that he said was not aggressive enough. The governor promised action in Pensacola, Fla., on Tuesday morning before flying over the spill site in the Gulf and touring operations here.

Crist relied on NASA, via Hollywood, for an analogy. He asked who had seen "Apollo 13," the movie about the disastrous space mission that ended in the safe return of astronauts despite catastrophic systems failures on board the ship.

"We're Americans," Crist said of the determination and ingenuity displayed by NASA engineers. "We've got to do that."

2 Responses »

  1. Oil spill diaster

    Jim Kirwan published on Rense on May 3 that an engineer with 25 years of experience with big machines (in the oil industry?) has the impression BP probably never can cap the broken drilling hole and in that case all the toxic ocean water in the world will destroy wildlife.

    I reallize that this is not imginary because BP drilled on the edge of what human technology can do.

    This is not drilling a well and then pumping-up the oil. On the sea bottom which is 5,000 feet below sea level the pressure by the water is already 150 bar. To spuw oil in it, is must have a pressure of at least 150 Bar or 2,200 psi. This is comparable with the pressure in an oxygen cilinder for welding. If the valve of a compressed air cylinder is broken or sheared off, the released pressure will cause the cylinder of 190 lbs to act like a rocket, shooting away quickly.
    But at the point where the drill hit the oilwell 30,000 feet under the bottom of the sea then one has to add another column of 30,000 feet oil representing about 13000 psi totalling about 15,000 psi. At least this should be the pressure in the well to push the oil up just to the level of the rig.

    But because the safety valves blew out and even destroyed the rig, there was way more extra pressure over 15,000 psi in that well. It looks impossible to cap the hole 5,000 feet below sea level for after robots failed, BP now tries to position a dome over the hole to catch the oil by sucking it up for 85%. But the oil is squirting immensely into the water drawing and mixing with the water by turbulance. If it is possible to catch 85% of the oil, which is highly questionable, at least 30,000 barrels a day continues spuwing into the sea going in circulation around the earth with the Gulfstream a little later. Now BP thinks to be able to release the pressure in the well by drilling another pipe which can be accomplished in 3 months they say. In the mean time 20 million barrels are circulating the world already if the dome not works. After that drilling nobody knows how long it takes to get some pressure off that big well.

    Addition of poisonous metanol will poison wildlife and surface active agents will make an emulsion of the oil in water, moving it downwards in super fine particles which are ingested by all wildlife from the surface to the bottom.

    Though this information is not helping to solve this oil disaster at all, it maybe of any help to be prepaired if they can’t stop it.

    Bob (chemical enigineer)

  2. Its much more complicated than the explination I am about to give, but I have a possible solution. They need to tap into the broken pipe and divert some oil up to the surface. This will eliminate some of that pressure. They should then place a mechanical sealer at the break. By mechanical, I mean something that allows flow through it so they can get it into place and then closes. If it is hinged from the inside, the pressure from the oil would hold it shut. The could then close the relief pipe and have control. I have submitted this idea along with a couple others to BP.