Sen. Nelson warned of possible breach 6 weeks ago
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07/19/10 Kate Bradshaw
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US Senator Bill Nelson


photo by Kate Bradshaw, WMNF

This morning you may have woken up to word that a new breach occurred at the Deepwater Horizon disaster site. White House press secretary Robert Gibbs says that officials are monitoring seepage at the top of the well and about two miles away from it. One Democratic US Senator was not so pleased today during an appearance in Downtown Tampa.

Just four days after BP successfully tested the latest cap on the still-gushing oil well, the recent discovery of a breach may mean they have to remove it to prevent an even bigger catastrophe in the Gulf. At about five this morning, Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen confirmed that there is seepage. Democratic Senator US Bill Nelson said there are still a lot of unknowns.

"Admiral Allen issued a press release at five o'clock this morning that there is seepage out of the seabed and we just simply do not know the extent. Nor do we know whether it's oil, methane gas, or a combination. The testing over the next twenty four hours will tell us."

He said a relief well, which is expected to be complete in August, is the only hope in preventing total calamity.

"This of course could have implications for us in the immediate. Although, if the relief well which is some months from now, if that relief well is successful, that will ultimately solve the problem. By intercepting the well some 17,000 feet below the seabed, just above the oil reservoir and then filling it with cement, which should kill the well and any breach of the well casing, that's up closer to the seabed surface that should take care of the problem."

Senator Nelson said that the Bay of Campeche, the site of the 1979 Ixtoc oil spill off Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, should serve as a cautionary tale.

"It took them five release wells to get that well finally killed. And that well was only in 300 feet of water. This well is in 5,000 feet of water."

The Florida senator added that he wrote a letter to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration more than a month and a half ago that expressed concern about a possible breach but he did not receive a reply.

"I spoke with the head of NOAA this morning and expressed my displeasure that when I wrote the head of BP on June 2 about the potential breach of this well, they have basically sidestepped me. They did not answer the question, and our worst fears are now coming true that this oil is breached, and now oil and methane gas are seeping out the sides into the seabed and coming up into the Gulf through the seabed."

Nelson added that the special session occurring in Tallahassee this week needs to come down on the side of Florida’s voters.

"If the Florida legislature does not allow the people of Florida to vote to stop oil wells right off of there beach, you know what tarballs are, well then somebody better beat the tar out of the legislature."

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