(Editor’s Note: This is my ‘we are so screwed’ post for 6.2.2010 unless Barry pulls a FUBAR with the Israeli situation. Does anybody have current information on what I’mADinnerJacket over in Iran is doing right now? Is Israel about to get hit on many fronts?)
PENSACOLA BEACH, Fla. — A Florida beach might get hit with oil from the Deepwater Horizon accident for the first time Wednesday as sheen likely caused by the accident was reported less than 10 miles off Pensacola Beach.
A charter boat captain reported the oil Tuesday afternoon and state and local environmental officials confirmed that it was about 9.5 miles offshore. Winds are forecast to blow from the south and west, pushing the outer edges of massive slick from the spill closer to western Panhandle beaches.
Emergency crews began Tuesday scouring the beaches for oil and shoring up miles of boom. Escambia County will use it to block oil from reaching inland waterways, but plans to leave beaches unprotected because they are too difficult to protect and easier to clean up.
The spill’s arrival coincides with the beginning of the Panhandle’s summer tourism season, which normally brings millions of dollars to the region.
“It’s inevitable that we will see it on the beaches,” said Keith Wilkins, Escambia’s deputy chief of neighborhood and community services.
The oil has been creeping toward Florida since the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded on April 20, killing 11 workers and eventually collapsing into the Gulf of Mexico. An estimated 20 million to 40 million gallons of oil has spewed into the Gulf, eclipsing the 11 million that leaked from the Exxon Valdez disaster. The rig was being operated for petroleum giant BP, which has tried unsuccessfully for six week to stanch the oil.
The Florida report followed an orange and oily mess washing up on Alabama’s beaches earlier Tuesday. Crews cleaned up the oil that they described as having the consistency of a “tarry mousse,” but health officials closed the beaches to swimming.
Pensacola Beach officials said their request for about $150,000 from BP to buy sifting machines and a tractor to help remove oil from the beach’s famous white sands has lingered unanswered for more than three weeks. BP has promised it will pay any expenses, but Panhandle officials say the bureaucracy has been slow. Some think the Federal Emergency Management Agency should be running the cleanup operation, not BP. (FEMA? These guys couldn’t find New Orleans after Katrina.)
Meanwhile, BP has cut the well pipe in order to install a cap. The oil output has increased with no guarantee that this maneuver is going to work any better than the previous. Everybody start praying.
(CNN) — A new flow of oil emerged from BP’s damaged undersea well in the Gulf of Mexico on Tuesday evening after a remote-controlled submarine successfully cut into the well’s riser pipe.
BP used robots in its latest attempt to curtail the flow of crude from the largest spill in U.S. history, which spread to barrier islands off Alabama and Mississippi on Tuesday.
When the robot submarines cut into the undersea well’s riser pipe, a fresh spew of oil temporarily obscured the view of the mechanical arm. The cut was a first step toward placing a cap over the well that has spewed hundreds of thousands of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico every day since late April.
BP expects to make more cuts to the riser before bringing in a diamond saw to make a clean cut where the cap will be fitted. Doug Suttles, the company’s chief operating officer, told CNN’s “John King USA” that the procedure should collect the “vast majority” of the oil if it succeeds.
“We’ll be putting the cap assembly, loading that out and sending it to the sea bed later tonight,” Suttles said. “We should be able to install this tomorrow. And hopefully by late tomorrow or Thursday, we should have this thing operating.”
But the operation carries the risk that the flow of crude from the ruptured well could increase by up to 20 percent once the damaged riser is cut away. The job already has been complicated by pipework around the well that has had to be removed before massive metal shears could be brought to bear Tuesday evening, Suttles said. The gusher may not be shut down until August, when BP expects to complete relief wells that will take the pressure off the one now spewing into the Gulf.