By Bettina Boxall, Los Angeles Times
BP officials said Saturday afternoon that they have encountered a setback in deploying a 100-ton containment dome over the massive Gulf of Mexico oil leak, but were not ready to declare the effort a failure.
Chief Operating Officer Doug Suttles said that hydrate -crystals that look like slush- had formed at the top of the dome, clogging the opening that is supposed to funnel oil up to a waiting ship.
The four-story metal structure was moved aside and is resting nearby on the seafloor, 5,000 feet beneath the surface, while engineers attempt to figure out a solution.
Suttles expects it will take several days to try and remedy the problem. Over the past day officials have been careful not to raise expectations about this containment strategy, which has never before been attempted at such ocean depths.
Andy Coburn, PSDS Associate Director and Adam Griffith, PSDS Research Scientist completed an aerial reconnaissance assessment of impacts associated with the Deepwater Horizon Incident.
We took off from Pensacola, FL at approximately 12:12 on Tuesday, May 4 and flew over Dauphin Island, the islands of the Gulf Island National Seashore, the Chandeleur Islands (LA) and the mainland Mississippi Gulf coast.
Although we did not observe oil on any beaches, marshes or islands, we did fly over the northern edge of the slick at N29 50.639 W89 06.633, or about 17 miles due west of the Chandeleur Islands. We also observed numerous locations where booms have been deployed, including a metal barricade along the backside of Dauphin island filled with a biochemical agent intended to solidify any oil with which it comes in contact (see image at top of page).
Also on Dauphin Island, private contractors were building a massive sand berm along the Gulf-facing shore on the western half of the island that will eventually stretch for miles. Although the publicly-stated purpose of this berm is to prevent oil from flowing onto the island, one can not help but wonder if this is another attempt to get taxpayers to artificially stabilize the nation’s most hazardous barrier island.
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Preliminary imagery from The Program for the Study of Developed Shorelines flight along the Gulf Coast today showing preparations for the oil spill in the Gulf. Some interesting things to note: Dauphin Island, Alabama was flooded again by the relatively small storms that passed by this week. The state of Alabama is spending a huge amount of money and effort to protect the west end of Dauphin Island from the oil spill, building Hesco walls on the north side and pushing up a berm on the south side. One has to wonder how this makes sense given that Dauphin Island is neither prime habitat nor is it particularly high value property. Also a bit irritating is the image of the Beau Rivage Casino in Biloxi with an oil boom already deployed protecting??? Some concrete!!!!! I have heard that booms will be in short supply for protecting even the most critical areas. Surely there is something more important to protect than a casino. The good news is that, for the most part, the spill has not hit the coast yet.
We’ll keep you posted and additional flights are scheduled. All images may be used at no cost with permission and full attribution. Thanks to Andy Coburn and Adam Griffith for their work. Stay tuned for more.