BP oil spill: Update on cleanup of gulf waters, underwater video released

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May 13, 2010 -- This morning, BP released video of the subsea well pipe gushing oil and gas into the waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

Click here to watch the video >

In a press brief released this morning, BP said that efforts to stop the flow of oil at the source continue. BP is trying to intervene by way of the blow out preventer (BOP). One possibility is to shoot 'junk shot' -- or debris -- into the well pipe, then filling it with specialized heavy fluids to seal the opening. Plans are underway and this option could be invoked next week.

In the interim, a second, smaller containment dome has been transported to the site and lowered down to the sea floor in preparation for deployment. It is expected to be operational in the next day or two.

Application of subsea and surface dispersants continues. So far, about 28,000 gallons of subsea dispersant has been applied, and over 400,000 gallons have been applied on the surface -- more than has ever been applied before.

Environmentalists are concerned about the effects of the dispersant on marine mammals and plant life, but EPA maintains that the chemicals being applied to the surface are safe and on the EPA's approved list of dispersants. The subsea application, however, is unprecedented and undergoing a series of tests as it is being used. EPA expects test results within a few days and has said that continued subsea application of dispersants, if approved, will require regular, ongoing testing, including biological testing and particle analysis. At that point, if testing reveals harmful impacts, the agency says subsea application of dispersants will be discontinued.

EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson acknowledged in a press briefing yesterday that this situation is "uncharted territory" and that the agency continues to work with BP on finding "creative solutions" to clean up the spill and mitigate damage.

Other efforts such as controlled burning and surface skimming continue. Thus far, over 1.2 million feet of containment boom has been deployed, with an additional 400,000 feet staged and ready to go. About 97,000 barrels of oily liquid have been recovered from the waters in the Gulf of Mexico.

Work on a relief well begun May 2 is continuing, but could take up to three months to become operational. Meanwhile, oil continues to spill at a rate of about 210,000 gallons per day.

BP has spent about $450 million to date on its response -- including cleanup, relief well drilling, settlements, and federal costs.

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