The containment dome over the blown well in the Gulf left scientists puzzled after a day of testing gave inconclusive readings on the pressure build beneath the cap. Engineers expected the pressure to be much higher than it is, leading them to believe there could be a leak in the sea bed. Another reason is that the reservoir could be much lower than they were thinking.
While the leak remains the focus, even with full containment the situation in the Gulf is far from being fixed. There is still a vast amount of oil in the Gulf itself. The coast is literally a disaster. Fishermen who have been in the region for generations must now leave to find employment elsewhere. The ecosystem in the Gulf is forever changed.
The question of clean-up is overwhelming as video shows workers leaning out of boats wiping grass blades individually with paper towels in an attempt to save the grass areas. Birds are cleaned and after a few weeks of medical care are shipped to a different area within the US and released hoping they will not return to the oil stricken area. The smell of oil blows in with the tide to fill the beach air with an overwhelming stench of petroleum.
Farmers in the area are allowing their unused farm lands to be changed to artificial marsh lands in an attempt to intercept migratory birds that will be headed for the Gulf in the autumn. They have no idea if it will work but they are trying to save literally thousands of birds from needing rescue later on or from dying.
BP scientists ideally want the new cap to contain 100 per cent of the oil without leaking or building up too much pressure until the relief well being drilled reaches the blown one. This is expected to happen in August. The cap should also allow for capture of oil from the well to then be piped to the surface to be contained in vessels.
If indeed there is a leak in the sea bed it could mean a greater problem. Benton F. Baugh, president of Radoil Inc. Houston and a National Academy of Engineering member who specializes in underwater oil operations explained that oil leaking in the sea bed could mean a geological pocket could be filling with the oil. As it fills, pressure could build and if the pocket cannot contain it then an underwater blowout could occur and this would be much worse than the current problem.
Roger N. Anderson, professor of marine geology and geophysics at Columbia University believes the slow pressure build in the cap could mean that there is a blockage somewhere in the pipe. “If it’s rising slowly, that means the pipe’s integritys still there. It’s just getting around obstacles …any increase in pressure is good not bad.”
There is fear that as the weather changes natural water currents the tar balls could begin showing up in Corpus Christi, TX, Miami, FL and North Carolina’s prized Outer Banks.
Testing on the cap had been scheduled to conclude on Saturday, but Admiral Thad Allen, retired Coast Guard Commander of the government’s response to the disaster, has ordered continued testing on the cap until the results are more conclusive.