BP Seeks Yet Another Way to Stop Oil Leak as Protests Loom
BP seemed to be getting criticism from every angle as the oil spill
in the Gulf of Mexico entered its 45th day Thursday and every effort to
stop the historic flow is still failing.
As the oil company was
getting increased scrutiny from Congress and President Obama, a
grass-roots campaign dubbed Seize BP planned demonstrations in more
than 50 cities to start Thursday.
"From Florida to Seattle,
Washington, from Hawaii to New York, all over California and many, many
states across the country, people will be taking to the streets over
the next week to demand that the assets of BP be seized now," said
Richard Becker, a member of the San Francisco, California, chapter of
"We know millions of people are deeply concerned about
what's going on in the Gulf right now, and we expect large numbers of
people to come out to the protests."
Sentiment such as Becker's
has seemed to grow as more oil from the underwater gusher has made its
way to or near coastal areas of Louisiana, Florida and other Gulf Coast
U.S. Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, who is heading the
federal government's response, said the real fix will be a relief well
but that won't be working until August. He said authorities have been
"relentless" with its oversight of BP's efforts and are making sure the
company exhausts every possible method.
BP announced Wednesday it had abandoned its latest plan to use a massive diamond wire cutter to cut the pipe spewing oil.
BP engineers had hoped the cutter would cut the pipe making it easier for them to place a cap on it.
diamond wire cutter plan was dumped after the device got stuck midway
through the pipe. It was freed and taken to the surface, Allen said.
next move will be to use the same sheer-cutting device that made a
successful cut on the riser Tuesday. The only issue with that cutter is
the rougher surface left by that cut will not accommodate the tight
seal needed for installation of the lower-marine riser package that BP
wanted to use the stop the gusher.
BP engineers now plan to use a different device called a "top hat" instead.
BP went back to the drawing board, shifting weather patterns threatened
to push more oil toward the shores of Mississippi, Alabama and Florida.
reported weathered oil and tar balls on barrier islands Tuesday, and
Florida Gov. Charlie Crist warned Wednesday that the white sands of the
Panhandle could start seeing crude wash ashore "in a day or two."
Louisiana, where oily sludge has been fouling coastal marshes for two
weeks, state officials said the White House has given its blessing to a
plan to dredge up walls of sand offshore, and BP agreed to fund the
$360 million construction cost.
U.S. officials raised concerns
about the long-term environmental effects of what would effectively
amount to building dozens of miles of new barrier islands off the
state's coast, but Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and other officials had
pushed for approval of the plan as a last-ditch effort to prevent
"It's very difficult if not impossible to clean
it up out of the marsh," said Billy Nungesser, president of Louisiana's
Plaquemines Parish, which includes the mouth of the Mississippi River.
"That's why we need this first line of defense, and we're going to work
hard, very quickly, to get that berm out there to give us the maximum
protection and give us a fighting chance."
On Wednesday, the
National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration extended fishing
restrictions deeper into the Gulf and eastward along the Florida
The latest order means 37 percent of the Gulf is
closed to fishing due to the spill, and it moves the boundaries of the
restricted zone eastward to just south of Navarre, Florida, and
southward to the edge of the Dry Tortugas, off Key West.
has spread southward. The head of the Department of the Environment and
Natural Resources in Mexico said Wednesday that five states in Mexico
are monitoring the oil spill in the event it reaches land in the
country, according to the state-run news agency Notimex.
latest attempt to curtail the flow comes after several failures,
including a closely watched bid to use heavy drilling fluid and cement
to shut down the well.
The well erupted after an explosion and
fire on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig on April 20 that killed 11
people. The rig sank two days later, leaving up to 19,000 barrels
(798,000 gallons) of oil a day pouring into the Gulf, according to
The gusher may not be shut until August when
BP expects to complete relief wells that will take the pressure off the
one now spewing into the Gulf.
BP, rig owner Transocean Ltd. and
oilfield services company Halliburton have blamed each other for the
disaster. But BP, as the well's owner, is responsible for the costs of
the cleanup under federal law. The company said it has spent more than
$1 billion to clean up the spill.
At the same
time, BP has taken a beating in the halls of government, drawing the
ire of members of Congress, officials in the Gulf states and the Obama
administration, which announced this week that a criminal investigation
of the spill was under way.
Bronstein, Aaron Cooper, Patty Lane, David Mattingly, Patrick Oppmann,
Kyra Phillips, and Tracy Sabo contributed to this report.