GULF COAST, LA, May 10, 2010 -- The first major attempt at stemming the flow of gushing oil from the broken well pipe in the waters off the Gulf Coast has failed, leaving crews to consider any and all backup plans.
On Friday, crews tried lowering a huge, 100-ton containment box over the well pipe, a strategy that had never before been attempted at such depths where not only pressure but temperature could adversely affect the outcome. Their fears were confirmed when ice crystals clogged the peaked opening at the top of the containment box and rendered the equipment useless.
The next possible steps under consideration include trying to plug the pipe with debris, such as golf balls and tire remnants; lowering another containment box; and hot-tapping the pipe.
Since the Deepwater Horizon explosion on April 20, which killed 11 workers, approximately 3.5 million gallons of crude oil have spilled into Gulf waters and continue to spill at a rate of about 210,000 gallons per day.
A BP internal investigation revealed that a methane bubble caused the explosion.
Late last week, oil residue could be seen washing ashore on islands of the coast of Louisiana. By Saturday, crude oil sludge began washing ashore on Dauphin Island of the coast of Alabama.