Gulf Cleanup, Investigation into Spill Continues

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

BP says it is currently removing approximately 2,000 barrels of oil a day from the Gulf of Mexico, using a tube to draw it from the main leak site 5,000 feet under the water.

The company is also considering ways to permanently seal the leaking well. According to an update posted on BP's website today, these include using chemicals to slow the leak, then cementing the well to prevent any more oil from spilling out of it. The company says it hopes to implement such a strategy before the end of the month.

Experts are expressing concerns that the massive amount of oil still leaking from the well could now be swept up in strong ocean currents, bringing even more of it ashore. The Associated Press reports that close to 46,000 square miles of water have now been closed to fishing by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Meanwhile, Congressional hearings to investigate the spill continue in Washington, with oil executives and federal officials expected to testify this week. The New York Times reports that Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano defended the federal government's response to the disaster at a hearing yesterday, and that the White House is expected to form a non-governmental panel to further investigate the spill.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar testified this morning. According to the AP, Salazar reaffirmed his committment to restructuring the Minerals Management Service, and also admitted that the government did not do enough to regulate big oil companies and monitor offshore drilling.

Speaking last week after the first round of Congressional hearings with big oil executives, President Obama remarked that it was time to end what he categorized as "the cozy relationship" between the big oil companies and the federal agencies in charge of regulating them.

For more WQXR coverage of this story, click here and here.

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