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Leak Stopped, Now What?

Efforts to permanently plug the well that ruptured in the Gulf of Mexico improve with each passing day. A government report says only about a quarter of the spilled oil remains in the gulf. But one environmental expert is worried about the effects of the chemical used to break up some of the oil. Pat Hernandez has more.


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National incident Commander Admiral Thad Allen says the static kill effort to plug the well for good is progressing, giving officials “high confidence” no more oil will leaking into the gulf. Don Van Nieuwenhuise is with the department of earth and atmospheric sciences at the UH:

The success of the top kill with the mud has been so good that its likely that its not leaking now, but that doesn’t mean that it might not be weak or in poor shape. So, it would probably be prudent to make sure they seal off the anulus that leads up to that 9 7/8 casing shoe where there could be a leak in the future, if things deteriorate say, five years from now.

Van Nieuwenhuise says BP responded to the oil spill with about five or six ways to stop it:

Course many of them failed. But each one that was tried, was actually easier to do, took less equipment, took less support from the surface, and each successive one after that, took more support and more equipment, and it took more time to build the equipment. So, in a way they did this in a very step-wise fashion. Looking at the logistics and looking at the risk involved, each successive step tended to have more risk involved in it.

BP won’t declare complete victory until it gets into the well from the other end, and that won’t happen until later this month. In the meantime, lawmakers pressed scientists to explain what effects a chemical dispersant used to get rid of the oil will have on the Gulf’s eco-system. JA Rodriguez is an environmental health and safety expert. He says BP applied nearly 2-million gallons of the chemical to the oil as it spewed from the well:

They don’t dissipate the oil, which means they don’t get rid of it. The dispersants work off of nature through the biodegration process. The problem that I have found is this particular dispersant, in accordance to their manufacturer NALCO Company, bioaccumulates, and through the bioaccumulation process, it could get into the food chain.

PH : “What kind of lasting impact would that have on the food chain?

Rodriguez : “You know, we won’t know for years, and the reason we won’t know for years is because you have bugs that consume these smaller bugs, and up until it gets to the fish and then, we consume the fish so, we may not be able to know that for some time, and what makes it even more challenging from a scientific point of view, is the fact that there is no test today available for detecting dispersants in food or in fish.

Early into the cleanup, the EPA directed BP to use less of the toxic chemicals because its long-term effects were not known.

Pat Hernandez, KUHF News.

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