The Washington Post reports the first good news to come from BP’s gusher zone in the Gulf. It’s not unqualified good news but it’s good news and it’s well written. It’s a first story about the Gulf you can read while drinking your coffee and not feel sick.
The well has been capped, more or less. BP engineers Thursday night guided a containment dome onto the hydrocarbon geyser shooting from the Gulf of Mexico oil well — a desperate and iffy attempt to capture the leaking oil and funnel it to a ship on the surface.
It was not an elegant operation. Furious clouds of oil escaped the “top hat.” Late in the evening, officials with BP and the federal government had not yet announced whether the dome would be any more successful than other efforts in recent weeks.
It was a day crammed with engineering drama. First, BP used robotic vehicles and a pair of giant shears to cut a damaged pipe a mile below the gulf’s surface. The result simplified the whole arrangement at the sea floor: Instead of spewing from multiple leaks in a tangle of bent pipes, the oil and natural gas surged in a single plume from what looked like a deep-sea smokestack.
Then came the dome, lowered by cables, guided by robots, illuminated by lamps in a world without natural light, and carrying with it the hopes of countless engineers and pretty much the entire Gulf Coast.
Nothing has gone according to plan in the subsea environment as, on the surface, the oil has hit more than 100 miles of Louisiana shoreline. After brushing a barrier island in Alabama, it is poised to tar the white sand beaches of the Florida Panhandle. The area of the gulf closed to fishing is now larger than the state of Florida.
Video available with the Post story. See The Florida Independent’s oil spill round up for more key coverage.