Feds: No timeline for completing Gulf relief well

Posted In Gulf Oil Catastrophe, News
Aug
18

Relief Wells BP

By Harry R. Weber, The Associated Press.

The government’s point man on the Gulf oil spill said today, he is no longer giving a timeline for completing the final stages of plugging BP’s runaway well.

Retired Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen told reporters that he will give the order to complete the so-called relief well when he is ready.

Since nearly the start of the disaster in April, the plan had been to complete a relief well by early to mid-August. But stormy weather and now questions of how to mitigate risks have delayed that timeline.

Allen said BP PLC still needs to come up with a plan to alleviate pressure that may build up once the relief well intersects the runaway well.

Ultimately, the plan is to pump mud and cement into the runaway well from the bottom to plug it permanently.

Allen said he doesn’t want to give timelines anymore because if he has to change them, that could cause a credibility problem.

“We will know when we have satisfied ourselves and we have removed any shadow of doubt,” Allen said when asked at what point he would give the order to move forward. He said the pause is “nothing more than an overabundance of caution and doing our jobs.”

The two options for relieving pressure are either to design a mechanism to attach to the current blowout preventer and temporary cap that has been preventing oil from entering the Gulf since mid-July, or to replace the existing blowout preventer with a new one first and then proceeding with the relief well.

John Wright, who has been leading the team drilling the relief well aboard a rig at the wellsite, said he also has not been given an exact timetable.

“I was told they are working through risk and contingency plans and would let me know when they were ready to start again,” Wright said in an e-mail to The Associated Press from aboard the Development Driller III vessel.

Also Wednesday, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration chief Jane Lubchenco responded to warnings from independent researchers who insist that the oil spill is a bigger mess than the government claims and that a lot of crude is lurking deep below the surface.

At the White House on Aug. 4, Lubchenco said that about 74 percent of the oil had been captured, burned, skimmed, evaporated, dissolved or dispersed. She asserted that the remaining 26 percent of the oil was on or just below the surface, had washed ashore or been collected from the shore, or was buried in sand and sediments.

That’s not what the scientists from South Florida and Georgia found. They said that the oil is not gone and it has to be dealt with.
Lubchenco told reporters Wednesday that she stands by the conclusions in the government’s report.

But, she added, “We know that oil is out there. It is diluted. Dilute and dispersed does not mean benign.”

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Resources

Federal

  • Deep Water Horizon Response is the official site of the incident in conjunction with BP, DOI, NPS, USGS, CDC, USFWS, NOAA and other branches of the US government (collectively called Unified Command). Information, including the latest news, photos, area plans, and volunteer information.
  • NOAA is a government program that uses science and research to protect life, property and natural resources. This NOAA site provides maps of the spill and related statistics, including a trajectory forecast map for the oil spill.
  • The Environmental Protection Agency provides data on Air, Land, and Water pollutants including sampling maps and contaminant levels.

Louisiana

  • Volunteer Louisiana is the official site for the State of Louisiana to get involved in the spill response.
  • The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries provides maps of closures to fishing areas in LA.
  • The Louisiana Emergency Office has made Google Earth files of the spill available to the public here http://gohsep.la.gov/oilspill.aspx and also has current information on general closures of waterways, photos, and reports.
  • The Audubon Nature Institute site provides a number for citizens to call if turtles, manatees, dolphins, or other animals are in distress
  • The Oiled Wildlife Care Network is a CA based non-profit is advising folks in the Gulf of Mexico on best practices and provide resources on how people can help.
  • The Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana is a non-profit organization who strive to protect and restore coastal Louisiana. Volunteers are needed for numerous actions including: monitoring, oiled wildlife recovery, boat driving, or simple monetary donations.
  • The Greater New Orleans Foundation is a philanthropic organization in Louisiana and the surrounding region that joins with other non-profit, foundations and community and government officials to address the needs of the community. The Foundation has opened the Gulf Coast Oil Spill Fund.
  • The Louisiana Bucket Brigade is an environmental health and justice organization working with communities near oil refineries and chemical plants. They aid residents in these regions to reduce pollution and protect public health. The Brigade has formed an incident map where you can report observed signs of oil.

Alabama

  • The Alabama Coastal Foundation is an education based organization whose mission is to project the quality of Alabama’s coastal resources. They are currently training volunteers to help directly with the spill response.
  • The site by the Alabama Governor’s Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives gives basic phone numbers.
  • The Mobile Bay National Estuary Program is an organization funded by the EPA fighting the environmental challenged facing Mobile Bay. This site gives e-mail addresses and phone numbers to help and provides basic information.
  • The Mobile Bay Keeper is a group of citizens who are interested in preserving the Mobile Bay watershed as well as protecting the health of the individuals and environment in the Bay. Check out the latest information about the spill and learn how to become a member and donate to the cause.

Mississippi

Florida

  • The Florida Department of Environmental Protection is the lead agency in FL and this website provides the most thorough information in the state.
  • Volunteer Florida, the website of the Governor’s Commission on Volunteerism and Community Service and the State Emergency Response Team, lists volunteer opportunities by county.
  • The Escambia County site provides summary points of actions taken by BP and FL with a focus on the County.
  • The Pinellas County site is a concise list of related local websites and numbers for information.
  • The Gulf County site has current news on the spill as it relates to the county
  • Volunteer directly with the largest wild bird hospital in the United States, the Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary.

Organizations and other networks

  • American Birding Association
  • Audubon is a global leader in protecting birds and other wildlife and their habitats. They are partnering with other organizations.
  • The Sierra Club is a grassroots environmental organization that works to protect communities, wild places, and the planet. Updates on the oil spill, as well as volunteer and donation information.
  • The Nature Conservancy is a conservation organization with a mission to preserve and protect ecologically significant lands and waters for nature and people. Learn more about the oil spill and how to help out at http://www.nature.org/wherewework/northamerica/states/alabama/features/oilspill.html and check out their blog.
  • Sea Grant is nationwide network (administered through NOAA) of 32 university-based programs that work with coastal communities on environmental stewardship and the responsible use of our coasts. The Gulf of Mexico Sea Grant Programs provides resources to educators with research that may be impacted by the spill.
  • The National Wildlife Federation is America’s largest conservation organization whose mission is to protect and restore wildlife habitat, confront global warming and connect with nature. Get the latest information on the oil spill crisis and how to help.
  • The mission of Tri-State Bird Rescue and Research is to provide rehabilitation of injured, orphaned, and oiled native wild birds to return to their natural environment. Donate to their research.
  • Green Peace is an international organization that strives to save the planet from environmental threats such as global warming, destruction of forests and deterioration of the oceans. Follow their blog and learn how to take action.
  • Global Green USA is an international environmental non-profit organization with an office in New Orleans that strives to fight global climate change, eliminate weapons of mass destruction and create clean, safe drinking water for all. Follow their blog and get involved.
  • Matter of Trust is a non-profit organization focused on materializing sustainable systems by mimicking Mother Nature as well as concentrating on manmade surplus, natural surplus and eco-educational programs. Learn very simple ways to help the oil spill crisis.
  • The official Facebook page of Unified Command.
  • BP Gulf of Mexico response.