by Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
Engineers are cautiously optimistic over the apparent success of a new containment cap that has stopped the oil that has been gushing into the Gulf for nearly three months. Critical tests of the cap are now underway.
Fox News is reporting that BP Chief Operating Officer Doug Suttles is urging caution about the cap and warning that the flow could resume, perhaps even more catastrophically under certain conditions.
For instance, in the worst-case scenario, oil forced down into the bedrock could rupture the seafloor irreparably. Leaks deep in the well bore might also be found, which would mean that oil would continue to flow into the Gulf. And there’s always the possibility of another explosion, either from too much pressure or from a previously unknown unstable piece of piping, Fox reports.
“It’s far from the finish line,” Suttles said. “It’s not the time to celebrate.”
President Barack Obama, who has suffered politically due to government inaction in the crisis that has raged since the April 20 explosion of the Deepwater Horizon well, called yesterday’s development “a positive sign” but warned that it was “still in the testing phase.”
His reaction was shared by most Gulf residents who were overjoyed to hear that the leak had been plugged, but were skeptical about how long it would last.
“That’s good,” said Rosalie Lapeyrouse, who owns a grocery store and a shrimping operation in Chauvin, Louisiana, to Fox. “I’m thinking they just stopped for a while. I don’t think it’s gonna last.”
Others are too concerned about living with the aftermath to be any more than just momentarily pleased.
“I think it’s wonderful they capped it, but it’s not helping our businesses,” said Louisiana resident Chad Horton, 32. “Our businesses are gone, but we’re depending on this (BP job) to support our families. They could come in and pull it out from under us at any time.”
The fishing industry has been particularly hard hit by the spill. Fox reports that recent surveys of oyster grounds in Louisiana showed extensive deaths of the shellfish. Large sections of the Gulf Coast – which accounts for 60 to 70 percent of the oysters eaten in the United States – have been closed to harvesting.
Scientists say oil may continue washing ashore for months, even years, after the well stops leaking. Within months, the oil could move as far west as Corpus Christi, or get caught on the loop current that will drag it around the state of Florida and up into Miami and even as far north as North Carolina’s Outer Banks.
Steve Lehmann, a scientific support coordinator for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) told Fox the agency is planning to track the oil in all its formations for several months after the well is killed. While the slicks will weather and disappear, possibly within a week, tar balls and patties will continue to wash ashore for years.
“Eh, the damage is done. The oil’s everywhere now,” said oysterman Johnny Schneider. “You ain’t never gonna get it out of the water.”
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