After failing for more than a month to stop the oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico, BP is almost ready to try its next strategy. The company described on Tuesday a plan to plug the well with a mixture of heavy drilling liquids. The strategy, known as “top kill,” was originally scheduled to begin Wednesday, The New York Times reports.
But by late Tuesday, the process appeared to be delayed already, the Los Angeles Times reports. An official from the oil company said diagnostic pressure tests that take 12 to 24 hours would be performed before the top kill could start. The official said the testing would start “in the next day or so” and left open the possibility that the next attempt to stop the leak could be delayed to later in the week.
At the same time, BP and the government are fighting over how best to minimize damage from the spill. Last week, the Environmental Protection Agency told BP to find a less toxic chemical dispersant to break up the oil spreading across the gulf. On Tuesday, BP continued to use the same line of dispersants, two types of Corexit, despite a Sunday night deadline to find a new one.
In its original demand to BP, the EPA told the oil company to propose an alternative dispersant and, if unable to find a better chemical, explain to regulators the problems with the alternatives. The company responded, saying Corexit was the best type of dispersant and would continue to be used. Lisa P. Jackson, head of the EPA, said the government was not satisfied with BP’s response and would conduct its own tests to see which dispersant should be used, The New York Times reports. As of Monday, more than 700,000 gallons of dispersant had been sprayed at the well head and on the surface of the gulf.
Problems at the Minerals Management Service, the agency in charge of regulating offshore drilling, continued to surface as a new report from the Department of the Interior’s inspector general detailed the close ties between one office in Louisiana and the oil industry.
Included in the report released Tuesday were stories of regulators at the MMS letting oil company officials fill out inspection reports in pencil for inspectors to trace over in pen, an inspector who reviewed four platforms owned by a company while negotiating for a job with the same company, and two inspectors who flew to a college football game on an oil company-owned airplane, The Washington Post reports.
The report dealt only with the agency’s Lake Charles, La., office and only covers the period up to 2008. The office did not issue the lease for the Deepwater Horizon rig that exploded in April in the Gulf of Mexico.Related:
U.S. Regulators Ignored Warnings of Offshore Oil Drilling Risks
Capturing 5,000 Barrels of Oil a Day, BP Ups Earlier Spill Estimates