Gulf Coast Oil Spill Disater Summary

From the good folks at NRDC.
This morning’s summary:

Another day, another delay. Late Tuesday, BP and the federal government decided to delay the “integrity test” of the capped well at least a day for more analysis before going forward with the latest plan to choke the well temporarily. The company is worried that the new cap may not be able to withstand the pressure from the spewing oil once it seals the cap. This delay cannot be a good sign. Until the new cap begins operating, the opened well will continue to gush oil unabated into the Gulf. The question right now is why it has taken so long to get to this point in the Gulf disaster. BP should have put the new cap in place much sooner than it has. We don’t want to raise the point again that BP had no failsafe plan in the event of a massive oil spill, and clearly there are still no rules yet for how to handle this kind of disaster. But this catastrophe has spilled 174 million gallons of oil into the Gulf so far, and there is still no final solution, just 2 relief wells that are expected to be in place, one of them by the end of July. And then there is still the hope and expectation that the tighter cap will pass muster and get the green light to begin its work.

Quotable Quote:

“As a result of these discussions, we decided that the process may benefit from additional analysis that will be performed tonight and tomorrow,” Incident Commander Thad Allen on why integrity tests of the new containment cap were delayed at the last minute Tuesday.

National News

Reuters: BP delays pressure test on blown-out Gulf well

Late Tuesday night, BP decided to postpone the crucial “integrity test” of the blown-out well with the new tighter cap. Incident Commander Thad Allen said there needs to be “additional analysis” before conducting the test, which may take anywhere from 6 to 48 hours. Scientists need more time to study the procedure used to measure pressure levels.

Read more

Also see

Bloomberg: BP delays testing of leaking Gulf well until U.S. approves

AP: Tests delayed on BP’s new Gulf oil well cap

Times Picayune: Test involves closing valves to shut oil spill

This is an account of what will happen when the test finally happens. The critical part involves shutting down valves on two blowout preventers “to determine whether there are weak points in the well where oil could escape into the rock formation surrounding it and even into the sea. If no such holes are found, the valves would remain closed, and the oil would stay contained inside the well until it is plugged with mud and cement next month.”

Read more from Jaquetta White

Bloomberg: Bromwich: Too risky to lift drilling moratorium

Lifting the moratorium on deep-water oil drilling is too risky as companies have yet to show they are capable of preventing and containing spills, says Michael Bromwich, the new head of the reorganized federal agency that heads offshore drilling.

Read more

Huffington Post: Is NOAA hoarding key data on oil spill damage?

According to the Huffington Post’s Dan Froomkin: The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is hoarding vast amounts of raw data. In most cases, NOAA insists on putting the data through a ponderous, many-weeks-long vetting process before making it public. In other cases, NOAA actually intended to keep the data secret indefinitely. But officials told the Huffington Post on Tuesday that they have now decided to release it — though when remains unclear.

Read more from Dan Froomkin

ABC: Environmental devastation spreads
For the past few days, all eyes have been on the containment cap, but the environmental damage continues to spread. Some scientists say the Gulf mud could act like a vault, locking in oil toxins so they can never be cleaned out. In Alaska, the ravages of Exxon Valdez can still be felt 20 years later – and the Gulf spill is 20 times bigger than that.

Read more from Matt Gutman and David Muir

AP: Obama to make another trip to Gulf in the “not too distant future”

The White House says the President is planning to visit the Gulf in the near future. He has made four visits there since the oil disaster began.

Read more Markey asks FDA to investigate spill impact on food chain

Rep. Edward J. Markey, saying the BP oil spill could cause arsenic to infiltrate the marine ecosystem in the Gulf, is asking the Food and Drug Administration to answer questions about how the food chain is being impacted.

Read more from Stephanie Vallejo Presidential commission chairs turn up heat over moratorium
Commission co-chairman Bob Graham, a former Democratic senator from Florida, declared Tuesday that there’s a “disconnect between Washington and the Gulf region about the sense of urgency needed.” The Republican co-chairman, former Environmental Protection Agency chief William Reilly, said the moratorium should be shortened. “I come to this experience with a much greater sense of the economic dislocation being experienced here than I had three days ago,” said Reilly.

Read more:


New York Times: Oil spill’s impact on Gulf seafood remains uncertain

As the New York Times puts it, the oil from the broken Gulf well “keeps moving closer to the plate.” No one knows how much oil might reach the populations of shellfish in the waterways close to New Orleans. “We just don’t know what it means, and that’s what’s driving us crazy,” said Ralph Brennan, whose family runs 12 restaurants, 9 in New Orleans.

Read more from Kim Severson

USA Today: Gulf coast pet owners get help
The Gulf Coast Companion Relief Program, established by the SPCA with assistance from several organizations, will help out-of-work fishers feed their pets rather than give them up.

Read more


Mother Jones: Did BP negotiate a terrorist’s release in exchange for Libyan oil?

It is far away from the Gulf of Mexico and the oil spill, but very close to Big Oil politics. The question now being asked by four U.S. senators is whether BP had a hand in persuading the British government to release the Lockerbie bomber as a condition for obtaining a $900 million offshore oil drilling deal with Libya?

Read more from Kate Sheppard

Check out this one, too:

AP: Did BP Ask for Lockerbie bomber’s release? U.S. Senators seek probe of Al-Megrahi emancipation

Politico: New on-site brass appointed

Rear Adm. Paul Zukunft will replace Rear Adm. James Watson as the government’s officer in charge at the scene of the oil spill. Zukunft will oversee various Coast Guard command centers.

Read more from Catherine Cheney

Politics Daily: Is Obama’s oil spill panel biased against drilling?

According to this column, the panelists reportedly let BP off easy during the first public hearing. But conservatives and others fear that, based on the makeup of the commission, these hearings are a pro forma exercise with a preordained conclusion: a recommendation for a drilling moratorium.

Read more from Matt Lewis

Washington Daily News: Perdue discusses oil spill

North Carolina Gov. Beverly Purdue says her state is bracing for the impact of oil from the spill, fishermen from the Gulf looking for work, and a renewed debate about offshore drilling, which she says her state does not want.

Read more from Edwin Modlin II


Bloomberg: UK will not help BP avoid takeover

BP will not be able to rely on support from the British Government if it is the target of a takeover bid.

Read more from James Moore

Christian Science Monitor: How fast will the Gulf bounce back from the BP oil spill?

According to the Christian Science Monitor, “the unprecedented use of kerosene dispersants and the deep-water nature of the BP oil spill is littered with unknowns. In localized places such as marshes and beaches, they could stretch the ability of the Gulf’s natural restorative powers to correct what one Gulf biologist calls man’s “insult” to the ecosystem.”

Read more from

Wall Street Journal: A short story in 1964 portrayed an oil spill

In 1964, the author Fritz Leiber wrote a short story in which petroleum threatens humanity.

Read more


New York Times: Offshore drilling: To pause or not to pause

Besides containing the disaster, it is the question of the moment and a very hard one: to have a moratorium on drilling. Even some members of the President’s commission who were set on a ban have come to acknowledge the severe economic hardship it would cause the region. The question then is how fast real safeguards could be in place.

Read more from John M. Broder

NHL Green: Richter: Gulf oil spill a wakeup call

Saying we are all in the same boat, a group of professional athletes did get into a boat to tour the damage to the Gulf, courtesy of the Sierra Club. Former NHL Goaltender Mike Richter said he thinks all Americans should view the oil spill as a wake-up call to move away from fossil fuels.

Read more

Times-Picayune: Louisiana is afraid to turn its back on Big Oil
So much uncertainty hangs over the Gulf right now that nobody is about to start drilling there for a while yet anyway. But Big Oil will be back to look after us as soon as possible, James Gill writes.

Read more by James Gill:


Bloomberg: Portraits of Gulf business owners on the brink

Nothing tells the story better than the stories of the individuals who are living it. In the Gulf States, business owners who thought they were just about on the way back from Katrina and recession are living a special kind of hell.

Read more from Ken Wells


Ø Oil spill tracker

Ø NOAA: NOAA forecast trajectory for spill through Thursday, July 15th


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