Monday, May 10, 2010

Some Oil Spill Updates

Due to the failure of the containment chamber, BP and the Coast Guard are talking about injecting debris into the blowout preventer to stop the flow of oil.

It was Allen who raised the possibility of using shredded tires and golf balls and other debris to help plug the gusher. He called the strategy a "junk shot," designed to plug the blowout preventer — the safety mechanism that should have sealed off the well after the April 20 explosion.

"They're actually going to take a bunch of debris, shredded up tires, golf balls and things like that and under very high pressure shoot it into the preventer itself and see if they can clog it up and stop the leak," Allen said.

"I think I hear an experiment," said Robert Bea, an engineering professor at the University of California at Berkeley and oil pipeline expert who spent 18 years with Shell Oil. "They are pulling every trick known to bring this thing under control."

On Saturday, BP's chief operating officer, Doug Suttles, said the process of injecting junk into the blowout preventer had "certain issues and challenges and risks with it."

On Sunday, Proegler said only that the strategy was "another back up option. Subsea, we're continuing to evaluate ways to overcome the challenges we encountered."
So far they are looking for better solutions because an operation like that would risk making the leak even worse than it is now. However, it may be a possibility if the containment chamber cannot be used.

From the same article, oil is washing up on some beaches:
Aerial surveys showed that the oil was still at least 20 miles from Mississippi's barrier islands, but that it had arrived at Louisiana's Chandeleur Islands, where officials on Friday closed the Breton National Wildlife Refuge so that cleanup and rescue operations for nesting seabirds could go forward.

Linda St. Martin, who is helping the Sierra Club coordinate its oil spill responders task force, said she was in the Chandeleur Islands to survey the oil spill there and the stench was hard to handle.

"It's ugly and it stinks," she said.

Tar balls started washing up Saturday along Dauphin Island in Alabama.
Treehugger has photos of oil on the beach at Eads Point in Louisiana. The amount is relatively small right now, but there is much more in the Gulf. The longer it takes to stop the leak, the more likely it becomes that a change in weather conditions could push more of it onto the beaches and nesting areas.

Finally, IBRRC is ready to release two rescued birds, a Northern Gannet and a Brown Pelican. The birds will be released at Pelican Island NWR. This site was chosen because it has populations of both species and is far from the current spill area.