The New York Times has the bad news:
BP engineers failed again to plug the gushing oil well on Saturday, a technician working on the project said, representing yet another setback in a series of unsuccessful procedures the company has tried a mile under the sea to stem the flow spreading into the Gulf of Mexico.
BP made a third attempt at what is termed the “junk shot” Friday night, a procedure that involves pumping odds and ends like plastic cubes, knotted rope, and golf balls into the blowout preventer, the five-story safety device atop the well. The maneuver is complementary to the heavily scrutinized effort known as a “top kill,”which began four days ago and involves pumping heavy mud into the well to counteract the push of the escaping oil. If the well is sealed, the company plans to then fill it with cement.
The technician working on the project said Saturday pumping has again been halted and a review of the data so far is under way. “Right now, I would not be optimistic,” the technician, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak publicly about the effort. But he added, that if another attempt at the junk shot were to succeed, “that would turn things around.”
BP won't comment until Sunday, but the technician says BP has been unable to keep more than ten percent of the injection fluids inside the pipes at the top of the well. BP is moving a second containment vessel over the leak, just in case it is determined that the top kill failed. Presumably, if it is determined that the effort failed, someone will inform Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen.
In other BP news, the Times also is reporting that internal documents show the company wasn't completely forthcoming with Congress, about its knowledge of problems with the Deepwater Horizon rig, before the blowout. Surprised?
Internal documents from BP show that there were serious problems and safety concerns with the Deepwater Horizon far earlier than those the company described to Congress this week.
The problems involved the well casing and the blowout preventer, which are considered key pieces in the chain of events that led to the disaster on that rig.
The documents show that in March, after several weeks of problems on the rig, BP was struggling with a loss of “well control.” And as far back as 11 months ago, the company was concerned about the well casing and the blowout preventer.
But not concerned enough about those serious problems and safety concerns to shut down the well until those serious problems and safety concerns were resolved. A general attitude that continues, right into the cleanup. McClatchy:
Federal regulators complained in a scathing internal memo about "significant deficiencies" in BP's handling of the safety of oil spill workers and asked the Coast Guard to help pressure the company to address a litany of concerns.
The memo, written by a Labor Department official earlier this week and obtained by McClatchy, reveals the Obama administration's growing concerns about potential health and safety problems posed by the oil spill and its inability to force BP to respond to them.
Inability to force BP to respond to them? Can the federal government really be unable to force a company to respond to health and safety problems? Perhaps some creative thinking is called for. As David Waldman asked: Who's running this thing?
Meanwhile, McClatchy also has a heartbreaking story on the threat to the Gulf's already endangered sea life.