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Scientists Call Gulf Oil Seepage Insignificant
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
Oil and small amounts of gas are slowly seeping into the Gulf of Mexico floor, but at a rate that scientists are calling insignificant.
On Sunday, BP notified the federal government that small amounts of oil and gas were seeping into the sea floor. Retired Adm. Thad Allen announced on Monday afternoon that BP needed to monitor the seepages closely but that it would allow the energy giant to keep its cap in place for at least another 24 hours, unless larger problems developed.
Allen, who is the Obama administration's point person on the oil spill, said on Monday that BP would still have to forge ahead with a long-term solution to plug the oil leak, namely digging a relief well to plug the gusher from underground.
Until BP finishes drilling the relief well, which it had been hesitant to do given the cap's success at stopping the oil since Thursday, it may try implementing a plan similar to the failed top kill procedure. In that scenario, BP would start pumping heavy drilling mud through the top of the cap and into the well to stop the oil flow, according to The Associated Press. The procedure does not come without risks; the cap could break once the oil is pumped in through the cap and into the well.
BP has so far shelled out $4 billion in clean-up costs, and has paid $207 million in damage claims, according to The AP.