SAN FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) -- Congressional leaders are looking into whether chemical dispersants were more widely used in the efforts to contain the Gulf of Mexico oil spill than previously disclosed, according to a report Sunday.
Rep. Edward Markey (D., Mass), has asked federal officials for more information on the chemicals, saying BP PLC (NYSE:BP) and the Coast Guard have used more of the dispersants than reported, The Wall Street Journal reported in its online edition.
The BP disaster could put a damper on this year's Oildorado Days in Taft, California. The festival commemorates a legendary oil spill that remains the largest in U.S. history. WSJ's Justin Scheck reports.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency had limited the use of the dispersants in May, citing concerns about their impact on marine life.
The Senate Committee on the Environment and Public Works is scheduled to hold a hearing on Wednesday on the use of the dispersants in the Gulf, the report added.
On Sunday, BP said that its use of dispersants have been approved by the government, the report said.
The new look at dispersants comes as BP readies another attempt to plug the blown-out Macondo well drilled by the stricken Deepwater Horizon rig, with a "static-kill" operation expected to start by Monday or Tuesday.
Riding a surging stock price in recent weeks as it brought the worst leak in U.S. history under control, BP (NYSE:BP) will use the successful capping system now in place to pump drilling mud into the well, followed by cement.
Unlike the top-kill attempt that didn't work a few weeks ago, the static kill is expected to plug the well because the drilling mud will be contained under the new cap, instead of billowing out of the top of vents as it did when a looser-fitting cap sat on top of the well pipe.
The static kill was expected to start over the weekend, but a BP spokesman said Friday that attempt must wait until Monday or Tuesday because it'll take time to clean out some stray rocks that fell into the relief well.
Meanwhile, work will continue to permanently kill the well through the use of relief wells. By Friday, BP was expected to finish attaching the casing on the inside of the primary relief wells in order to move ahead with the static kill.
The relief well efforts are still targeted for completion in August, when BP will pump cement near the point where the bottom of the blown-out Macondo well connects to the oil reservoir deep in the earth's crust.
The BP well leaked an estimated 3 million to 5.2 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. The leak finally was capped on July 15.
The spill began after the April 20 with a blast on the Deepwater Horizon rig that killed 11 workers. The cause of the accident remains under investigation by several governmental entities. Meanwhile, a deepwater drilling ban is in effect in the Gulf of Mexico as regulators review the practice.
This past week, BP took a $17 billion loss and ousted Tony Hayward as CEO and
BP's share price touched a 14-year low of $27.02 a share on June 25. Since then, the stock has been rebounding. It was up about 33% in July.