Last night, BP admitted that the “top kill” has failed in stopping the Gulf of Mexico oil leak, which Carol Browner, Obama’s adviser for environment and energy, today called “the worst environmental disaster we’ve ever faced in this country.”
“This scares everybody, the fact that we can’t make this well stop flowing, the fact that we haven’t succeeded so far,” BP Chief Operating Office Doug Settles said at a press conference Saturday night.
BP will now attempt to use robot submarines to cut off the damaged pipe and place a cap on it, a procedure that could take at least four days to implement. And it is likely to take much longer for the spill to be completely eradicated, according to Browner. The long-term plan, which will not be in place until August, is the drilling of a relief well; Browner said the administration has ordered BP to drill a second relief well in case the first doesn’t work.
“American people need to know that it is possible we will have oil leaking from this well until August when the relief wells will be finished,” she said.
The capping strategy is seen as a temporary and uncertain solution; as Obama explained in a statement Saturday, it “is not without risk and has never been attempted before at this depth that is why it was not activated until other methods had been exhausted.” Cutting the pipe in order to cap it could actually release up to 20 percent more oil over a few days because a key pipe needs to be cut so that the cap will be able to fit on properly.