Setback for Latest Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Fix

BP’s latest try at slowing the Deepwater Horizon oil spill has faltered. According to MSNBC, a robotic diamond-edged saw being used to cut a thick pipe on the sea floor has become stuck in the pipe. It is not known how long this setback will delay the operation.

The saw was making the second of two cuts in a so-called “cut and cap” procedure. Once the second cut is made, the plan is to lower a containment dome to capture most – but not all – of the oil flow and send it up to a tanker on the surface.

At a briefing today, Adm. Thad Allen of the Coast Guard, who is commanding the federal response to the oil spill, said the second cut will be made. According to MSNBC, engineers may have to bring in a second saw awaiting on a boat to make the cut.

Allen said that while the cut will be made, there was a question how smooth, or fine, it could be made. If the cut is not as smooth as possible, a looser fitting cap will need to be placed on of the spewing oil, and will not capture as much of it, MSNBC said.

There are also concerns that the procedure will increase the flow of oil coming from the well by as much as 20 percent. Allen said engineers won’t know if that happened until the second cut is made.

According to MSNBC, oil was already coming out of the new cut, and crews were shooting chemicals to try to disperse it.

Even if the cut and cap operation does work, it will not be a permanent fix. That won’t come until at least August, when BP finishes relief wells it is currently drilling nearby.

As BP struggled with its latest fix, the oil spill continued to move onto the U.S. Gulf Coast. It has already polluted about 125 miles of Louisiana coastline, and according to CNN, began spreading northeast yesterday. Tar balls and patches of “weathered” oil came ashore on Dauphin Island, Alabama, south of Mobile, Alabama, and on Mississippi’s Petit Bois Island, off Pascagoula, Mississippi, CNN said.

According to Florida Governor Charlie Crist, the spill was expected to hit the western Florida Panhandle “in a day or two.” Sheen from the spill, along with tar balls, was spotted less than 10 miles from Florida shores, the Governor said.

The Deepwater Horizon oil spill began on April 20, when the oil rig exploded, killing 11 crew. Since then, the gushing well spewing as much as 800,000 gallons of oil per day into the Gulf of Mexico.

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