July 27th – 1:30PM
New Orleans, LA – It’s been over two weeks since we’ve last posted, and much has happened in that time. A temporary cap has been placed over the broken well until a final permanent plug can be installed in August, effectively stopping the flow of oil since July 15, with no more leakage showing in tests.
There is still a concern about seepage and possible methane close to the site, but these are considered to be similar to drips and don’t yet indicate anything too serious. Furthermore, pressure is still building within the well, signifying that it has maintained its integrity and oil and gas are not escaping through cracks. Officials have announced August 2nd as a start date for the “static kill,” similar to the earlier, failed “top kill,” a procedure in which heavy drilling mud is pumped at low rates and pressure down to the well’s failed blowout preventers, then sealed with cement. It should work better than the “top kill” which failed because so much oil was still leaking that engineers couldn’t pump the mud with a great enough pressure. Five days after the “static kill,” a “bottom kill” will follow to make sure the well has been effectively plugged and ensuring the well will never leak again.
On the cleanup front, operations halted for Bonnie have returned. There will no longer be use of chemical dispersants, as they are now considered to be inefficient and ineffective since the oil has been weathered. However, skimmers, people, and boats have returned to their cleanup efforts. On a flyover since the recent capping we saw a dramatic change in activity that we hope signals increased cleanup efforts, with less effort needed for capping. Meanwhile, BP is continuing to drill relief wells, providing a more permanent solution; the work is set to be completed the second week of August.
Now that this progress has been made, energy needs to be focused on the restoration and rehabilitation of the Gulf. The oil flow may have stopped, but its effect are just as present and prevalent in the Gulf’s waters. The state of Louisiana is considering reopening much of the state’s waters to commercial fishing, having already reopened the area to sport fishing. We flew over these areas yesterday and it is hard to imagine them being safe for any sort of life, let alone as a source of food. Continual research and scientific inquiry will be extremely important over the next weeks, months, and years in order to ensure the welfare of Gulf residents and properly restore the affected ecosystems.
-Elizabeth J. Har &
Nicholas Stone Schearer