The race to avert an oil catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico intensified yesterday, with BP rushing to lower a dome to contain the spill, while sheen was confirmed on land for the first time. The unprecedented operation to place the 90-metric-tonne dome over a gushing pipe on the seabed is seen as the best hope in staving off the biggest U.S. environmental disaster since the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska.
The white box-like structure will be lowered 1,500 metres onto a pipe that was fractured by the April 22 sinking of a BPleased oil rig. It will then be connected to a tanker on the surface, National Post informs.
BP Chief Operating Officer Doug Suttles had said the dome could be placed over the leak site by late on Thursday. He has said it could be operating by Monday. The company is drilling a relief well that could take two or three months to complete, making the 98-ton containment dome the centerpiece of the short-term fight against the slick.
On Thursday, the federal government heaped more criticism on BP, and said it would make sure it lived up to its responsibility to limit the damage from what could be the largest oil spill in U.S. history, Reuters says.