Oil spill grows to 3.5 Million gallons as BP scrambles*

Here is some news on the Oil Spill.  While proper stats are indeed shady, they don’t seem to succeed in capping it.

Oil spill grows to 3.5 Million gallons as BP scrambles*

ON THE GULF OF MEXICO (AP) — A growing collection of crippled
equipment littered the ocean floor Sunday near a ruptured oil well
gushing crude into the Gulf of Mexico, the remnants of a massive rig
that exploded weeks ago and the failed efforts since to cap the leak.

On the surface, nearly a mile up, a fleet of ships maneuvered to deploy
the latest stopgap plans hatched by BP engineers desperate to keep the
Deepwater Horizon disaster from becoming the nation’s worst spill. An
estimated 3.5 million gallons has risen from the depths since the April
20 explosion that killed 11, a pace that would surpass the total spilled
in the Exxon Valdez disaster by Father’s Day.

A day after icelike crystals clogged a four-story box that workers had
lowered atop the main leak, crews using remote-controlled submarines
hauled the specially built structure more than a quarter-mile away and
prepared other long-shot methods of stopping the flow.

Chief operating officer Doug Suttles said BP was thinking about putting
a smaller containment dome over the massive leak, believing that it
would be less vulnerable. The smaller dome could be ready to deploy
Tuesday or Wednesday.

"We’re going to pursue the first option that’s available to us and we
think it’ll be the top hat," Suttles said.

The company was also now debating whether it should cut the riser pipe
undersea and use larger piping to bring the gushing oil to a drill ship
on the surface. The third option would use a tube to shoot ground-up
materials into the well’s blowout preventer, a process that could take
two to three weeks.

As BP weighed its options on the mainland, waves of dark brown and black
sludge crashed into a boat in the area above the leak. The fumes there
were so intense that a crewmember of the support ship Joe Griffin and an
AP photographer on board had to wear respirators while on deck.

A white cattle egret landed on the ship, brownish-colored stains of oil
on its face and along its chest, wings and tail.

Meanwhile, thick blobs of tar had washed up on Alabama’s white sand
beaches, yet another sign the spill was spreading.

It had taken about two weeks to build the box and three days to cart the
containment box 50 miles out and slowly lower it to the well a mile
below the surface, but the frozen depths were just too much.

Company and Coast Guard officials had cautioned that icelike hydrates, a
slushy mixture of gas and water, would be one of the biggest challenges
to the containment box plan. The crystals clogged the opening in the top
of the peaked box, Suttles said, like sand in a funnel, only upside-down.

"We never believed the hydrates could actually plug up a 12-inch opening
and they did, which means they’re forming very rapidly and in large
quantities," Suttles said.

The containment box plan, never before tried at such depths, had been
designed to siphon up to 85% of the leaking oil.

The original blowout was triggered by a bubble of methane gas that
escaped from the well and shot up the drill column, expanding quickly as
it burst through several seals and barriers before exploding, according
to interviews with rig workers conducted during BP PLC’s internal
investigation. Deep sea oil drillers often encounter pockets of methane
crystals as they dig into the earth.

As the bubble rose, it intensified and grew, breaking through various
safety barriers, said Robert Bea, a University of California Berkley
engineering professor and oil pipeline expert who detailed the
interviews exclusively to an AP reporter.

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