Allen: well kill may happen in early August

07/26/10 Kate Bradshaw
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After a stormy weekend in the Gulf efforts to kill the gusher at Deepwater Horizon are once again up and running. Officials say they’re expecting to kill the well as early as the second week of August.

Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen said the latest effort to kill Macondo Well is underway and a permanent fix for the gusher may be merely weeks out.

"Monday through Wednesday of this week, preparing the well. Wednesday through Saturday and Sunday, running the casing pipe. To be in a position on Monday, the 2nd of August, to begin the static kill. And then approximately five days later, to begin the bottom kill. So at the end of week after next, we have the potential to enter the annual-is and begin killing the well."

And while the spill response leader seemed optimistic, he admitted the cleanup effort will be ongoing.

"What we have is an aggregation of hundreds and thousands of patches of oil. The challenge is to find out where they're at right now because they're widely dispersed. We've got to get on top of them so they don't come ashore."

The good news, he said, is that if all goes as planned the gulf will see no new oil.

"Well, if it stands right now, the cap stays in place, and we're able to kill the well, then we've seen the amount of oil that's going to be discharged. Again, we're not going to declare any victory on this until that well is killed. That said, when this spill first started, it took about four to six weeks after that, or maybe even longer for the oil to actually start impacting shore. And this can vary on the wind and the current conditions. So, we fully expect that. If you look around the 15th of July, we were able to put the cap in place. I think we can expect from four to six weeks after that, or maybe even longer depending on the weather conditions, for oil to continue to come ashore."

Allen did note that much of the oil hasn’t been accounted for and noted widespread concern over massive undersea oil plumes like the ones a team of Florida researchers confirmed were from the broken well this week.

"We know there's a lot of concern out there about the fact of undersea oil that may not have been located. We'll continue to look for that, and know it's being very aggressive out there and they're hydrocarbon testing the water."

Another snag in the cleanup effort is that it’s happening in the heart of hurricane season. Rear Admiral Paul Zukunft, the disaster’s Federal On-Scene Coordinator, said that when Tropical Depression Bonnie washed through the gulf on Saturday, oil cleanup efforts were substantially offset, something that calls into question what would happen were a stronger storm to travel through the area.

"Even though the storm provided a very moderate storm serge, we had over 95 miles worth of boom that was was displaced another 32 miles of boom, that is now stranded in marshy areas. So, a lot of these vessels of opportunity are going to be replacing and re situating some of that boon, which is a concern of mine. [Tropical Storm] Bonnie was really not much of a storm, but we see what it does to boom, and I've got 3.5 million feet of this boom out there."

But while officials maintain a rosy view the disaster recovery, tourism in the affected states is still taking a beating. Today U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke says the Gulf Coast tourism business needs more advertising money from BP to attract oil-wary visitors. He told the U.S. Tourism and Travel Advisory Board in New Orleans that a tourism recovery will "take a lot of time, a lot of work and a lot of money."

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