How (Not) To Stop An Oil Spill: BP’s Second Attempt To Cap The Leak

Today marks the 23rd day since the Deepwater Horizon rupture: an offshore drilling accident that killed 11 people and injured several others.

That means crude oil has been spewing out into the Gulf of Mexico for 18,720 minutes and counting. Sky Truth reports that observable slick and sheen covered 4,683 square miles of water and coastline as of May 10th, with roughly 5,000 barrels of oil leaking out every day.

Here’s a video of the oil gushing from sea-floor well:

Knowing this amount of potentially irreversible environmental destruction is happening every minute leads many to ask, “What is taking so long?”

It took two weeks for BP to make its first attempt to cap the well by lowering a four-story-high, 100-ton metal box over the main oil leak. This attempt failed miserably when ice crystals crusted over the device, preventing oil from being siphoned to the surface.

Although they claimed it was only a minor setback, BP engineers were clearly desperate for alternatives following the first dome failure. Doug Suttles, BP’s chief operating officer for exploration and production, told CNN that they might shoot garbage into the gaping hole to try to plug the gusher.

That’s right, they wanted to throw garbage at it (because there’s not enough of that in the ocean already).

As if that weren’t terryfying enough, Russian oil producers encouraged their American counterparts to nuke the leaking well, an approach that has worked for them five different times.

Thankfully, neither of these approaches are being pursued (yet!), and BP has instead opted to attempt another cap, this time with a much smaller funnel.

The new plan is to have an oil-barrel-sized container at the leak site, a mile beneath the water’s surface, within 72 hours, Tony Hayward, BP’s chief executive told Then oil would be siphoned up to a tanker.

BP officials are hoping the smaller container will allow less room for seawater to accumulate inside the structure, thus presenting less of an opportunity for hydrate formation that could block the siphoning process.


Find full Care2 Coverage of the Spill here.

Image Credit: US Coast Guard


Luis J.
Luis Miguel J8 years ago

Its not possible that BP doing it so slow, 6 months to close its desaster , it can`t be, who punish it?

Ann Philip
Ann Philip8 years ago has a Eco friendly solution to clean up the tragedy British Petroleum has created, please watch the video animation: and pass this along to as many people as you know.

One person can still make a difference in this world, is that simple interactions have a rippling effect. Each time this gets pass along, the hope in cleaning our planet is passed on.

Inez Deborah Altar


Bobby S.
Bobby S8 years ago

It took five attempts to plug the leak that Halliburton caused on the Montara rig in the Timor Sea off of the coast of Australia last August. This is when they were doing a contract for PTTEP Australasia. It took them 21/2 months to stop it. Since this isn't that significant in the American corporate media, use the google news archive search feature. When something happens once it can be called an accident. When it happens twice due to the same negligence and same circumstances within a year, it is a criminal act.
Here are some links:

Dave M.
Dave M8 years ago

to Joshua I.: great idea!

Dave M.
Dave M8 years ago

to Johan l.: I was a customer of Exxon before the Valdez "accident" and was into them for about $400 a month for gasoline purchases. After they refused to "man-up" and pay to clean up (not just disperse the oil), pay the court-mandated fines, and change their criminal behavior, I have NEVER used a drop of their products knowingly... AND, when they bought Mobil, I have boycotted them too.
I have since decided that BP, in choosing to disperse rather than clean up and in the revelation that they (along with Cheney's Haliburton and TransOcean) were criminally negligent and deliberately sidestepping safety procedures, I'll boycott them as well.
It's time for a significant number of us to do the same! Hit 'em where it hurts!

Peter Finn
Peter Finn8 years ago

BP has now displayed the most callous disregard for the senitive coastline and its inhabitants in the pursuit of wealth and oil . At any one moment they had it within their ability to prevent the oil spillage and for the last 33 days they have delayed what must have been regarded as the priodial approach rather the the final approach but the issue was one of financail committement It now seems their decision to include payments to fishermen otherwise bereft of a place to fish is synical in the extreme They destroy the livlihood of innocent folk for the protection of monied parties in the oil pursuit business and the measure best suited to prevent the disaster they ignored .
It has long been known that the pressure employed to mount the oil to the surface has been suppiled by vast land based pumps to replace the oil with seawater and hence maintain the pressure The more seawater you attempt to pump in the greater the force of the oil leaving In this case the drill wellhead is on the sea bed with gigantic pressure on the sea floor The most simple operation was to lower into the mile long hole a series of explosives with sufficent charge to block the 20centimtre hole A series of charges at various depths would prevent the leak so allowing for other wellheads to be built alongside costly but effective

Mike K8 years ago

third and fourth attempt coming soon!

Jonathan Y.
Jonathan Y8 years ago

Did anyone see the independent scientists' estimates based on particle flow analysis of the videos - they calculate it's conservatively 50K to 70K gallons a day, making this much worse than Exxon-Valdez. The measly '5K' is a deliberately lowball estimate by you guessed it, BP. We need to hold this administration's feet to the fire, too, can't believe Obama said "now isn't the time to assign blame"(?!)? I supported the President, but this is an emergency and they're still coddling the oil industry! With the technical expertise we have in this country, their lackadaisical response and failure to push alternatives now is inexcusable!

There is an enormous volume of pollution in the water column which has not washed ashore yet or circulated to Florida and beyond. We won't see the full effect of the disaster until a few hurricanes stir up circulation in the Gulf. This is a monumental eco-disaster which will inflict crippling losses over years and decades - if it were stopped today, it would still be the worst oil spill on US shores ever.

johan l.
paul l8 years ago

I will sign any petition prohibiting offshore drilling!
The first boycott for American people should be to never buy BP gas again!
I just viewed the short video of the disaster and my first reaction was that howmany Americans ever think of the poor guys that lost their lives in the explosion.
Remember they were only doing their job and could not possibly have foreseen what was going to happen!
No More offshore drilling should even be contemplated and the sooner the law is repudiated opening up so many thousands of miles of American coastline, the better.