Democratic Senators Call for Criminal, Civil Charges Over Gulf Oil Spill
With over 5,000 barrels of oil spilling into the Gulf of Mexico every day after the oil well leak on April 20, eight senators are contemplating pressing criminal and civil charges against BP. In the mean time, BP is scrambling to find solutions to what could be considered one of the worst oil spills in U.S. history.
BP Plc., Transocean Ltd., and Halliburton Co. attended two separate hearings in Washington D.C. on May 11 and another on May 12. Congress questioned the events that led to the leak and what actions BP is taking to repair the well that killed 11 people, put many fisherman out of work, and caused the spread of oil to surrounding waters threatening wildlife (which prompted the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association to increase the ban of fishing area in the Gulf from seven percent to 19 percent).
“We’ve seen the most catastrophic possibilities and it seems to me like they’re flailing around going from one thing to another not really knowing what in fact is necessary to stop this, short of that relief well that will just take way too long,” said Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ).
BP first tried to funnel the oil to ships using a 98-tonne “top hat” dome on the seabed floor, and due to large hydrate volumes, the dome clogged. More recently, a smaller, one mile long funnel was set in its place was will collect some of the oil approximately 5,000 feet below the surface. A heavy mud mixture will be pumped into the well’s blowout preventer in preparation for cement to seal the well permanently. In addition, as Menendez stated above, BP plans to drill a relief well that could take as long as 80 days to construct.
BP’s latest efforts include the riser insertion tube tool (RITT) containment system, and according to BP’s official website, it was “put into place in the end of the leaking riser” and “is operational.” This tool is collecting 2,000 barrels a day, and produced oil is being stored in ships above surface. The senators question BP’s “proven technology and equipment” during this time.
“While I always hope for the best, this is looking like really out-of-control bad,” said Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL).
While BP’s new developments will help clear some of the damage, new problems arise with problems concerning where the oil will travel to next. Considering BP’s history with oil-related accidents, these eight senators will surely ride the company’s coattails through the rest of this investigation and certainly through a criminal trial. _© 2009, DailyTech.