NASA has released these new satellite photos of the oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico.
Here's a better view from NOLA.com:
Nothing seems to be going right in this disaster. In the above photo, an oil containment boom is virtually worthless as the waves are washing over it. See more photos.
Spill, Baby, Spill!
I think this falls into the good news/bad news arena for opponents of new off-shore drilling. The bad news is that we have an ecological disaster on our hands. The good news is that this incident might provide renewed interest in a further moratorium on new drilling.
My question for those dealing with the problem would be, why isn't BP responsible for capping the broken well? I'm sure if it were on land they would have to cap it. I realize it's hard considering the depth of the break, and that would make it expensive to cap. But as the old saying goes, "you play the game, you take your chances."
I have seen much news about the slick, but little about progress toward capping the well. Can it be done? When will it be done? Other than the government getting involved I don't know much about what is happening at the source of the oil.
There's not much to report. So far, according to AP, the efforts have not been successful. They're trying to drill relief wells to slow the oil. That could take up to three months.
There’s a valve at the top of the well which all the oil flows through. It’s controlled remotely by the rig and of course the cables were lost when the rig went down (or possibly in the fire). So far BP has been trying to use submersible robots to “manually” close the valve but it hasn’t worked yet.
I found it interesting to learn that the US, unlike many other countries with deep-sea drilling (including all of the North Sea countries, Canada & Brazil, at least) does not require that the valves be fitted with a secondary acoustic control system which can be triggered through the water if the cable becomes unusable. I suspect new regulations will shortly require this!
That said, it’s unclear whether the failures to close the valve with the robots are because they can’t manipulate a control, or because the valve itself is defective.
BP has also been building 'containment domes' which they plan to lower over the sites of the leaks to try to capture the oil at the seabed and route it up to the surface, but it’s unclear whether that will be successful (a) at the depth of this well, and (b) when there’s 5000-odd feet of pipe waiting to spring more leaks.
The relief wells will be used to pump thick mud & concrete in to seal the well, but as Bob says that’s a long-term fix.
(The AP is covering this pretty well.)