The fissures, which BP began to attempt to fix on February 13, could have played a role in the disaster, though this is a question still being explored by investigators. Improperly sealed, the cracks cause explosive natural gas to rush up the shaft.
"All the actions and few tid bits of information all lead to one inescapable conclusion. The well pipes below the sea floor are broken and leaking. Now you have some real data of how BP's actions are evidence of that, as well as some murky statement from "BP officials" confirming the same.
"To those of us outside the real inside loop, yet still fairly knowledgeable, [the failure of Top Kill] was a major confirmation of what many feared. That the system below the sea floor has serious failures of varying magnitude in the complicated chain, and it is breaking down and it will continue to. "What does this mean?
BP's plan to protect workers fighting the massive oil spill in the Gulf, which the Coast Guard approved on May 25, exposes them to higher levels of toxic chemicals than generally accepted practices permit.
As a result, BP isn't required to give workers respirators, to evacuate them from danger zones, or to take other precautions until conditions are more dangerous. The looser standards are due in part to federal regulations that don't specify safety thresholds for volatile organic compounds, or VOCs — the principal toxins that threaten the health of spill response workers, experts said.
The disaster scenario — contained in a May 2000 offshore drilling plan for the Shell oil company that McClatchy has obtained — is now a grim reality in the Gulf of Mexico. Less predictably, perhaps, the author of the document was the Interior Department's Minerals Management Service, the regulatory agency that's come under withering criticism in the wake of the BP spill for being too cozy with industries it was supposed to be regulating.
In a move condemned yesterday by several legal experts as indicative of corporate arrogance but defended by others as accepted tactical manoeuvring, the British energy group has filed papers requesting that all pre-trial matters in litigation relating to the Deepwater Horizon disaster be assigned to US District Judge Lynn Hughes.
Concerns are mounting over the chemical dispersants BP's using to fight the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico now that over 1 million gallons of the chemical have been pumped in Gulf waters. Nonetheless, a federal study says using the dispersants are less harmful to the environment than allowing the oil to reach shorelines.
Although the Coast Guard had trained for the possibility of cleaning up a disastrous oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, it had never anticipated that oil would spread across such a broad area and break up into hundreds of thousands of patches as the current spill has done, the commander heading the federal response to the spill said Monday.
“It’s the breadth and complexity of the disaggregation of the oil” that is now posing the greatest clean-up challenge, the commander, Adm. Thad W. Allen, said at a news conference at the White House.
Page 153 of 192