By Alex Haro
The weather deteriorated in the Caribbean last week as Hurricane Bonnie stormed her way towards the Gulf. Tensions were high around BP’s busted well, and drilling crews were ordered to stop work on the relief wells and pull out of the squall’s projected path. As the storm crossed Southern Florida, it lost much of its punch, and crews moved back into the area this week to continue work on the wells.
After reconnaissance of an area where satellites indicated there may be an oil sheen, Coast Guard Admiral and on-site Gulf coordinator Paul Zunkunft told CNN that there’s less visible oil in the area than expected–so much less, in fact, that they’re having trouble finding it.
“We’re not seeing many targets for our fleet of 780 skimmers,” he said. “We’ve had nine days of no new oil being released, so what we’re seeing is the remnants of oil that was released nine days ago.”
Deepwater Horizon is the second largest spill in the United States, behind only the Lake View Gusher that saw 378,000,000 gallons released in 1911. It’s hard to believe that the oil would simply disappear. A big problem the cleanup effort faces is the amount of marshland in the Gulf. As well as making the oil difficult to find, the marshes are also extremely difficult to rehabilitate.
Although crews are back in the area, it’s still expected to take up to seven days before things get back to where they were before Bonnie. July 15th was a turning point in the catastrophe–the containment cap was lowered into place and stopped the flow of oil after nearly three months. A temporary fix, the cap is only being used until relief wells can reach the ruptured well and staunch the flow from beneath. Although the relief wells are still thought of as the only permanent way to stop the spill, BP is expected to try another tactic. A “static-kill,” which involves pumping mud and concrete into the well (and in turn, forcing the oil back into its reservoir) could begin as soon as August 1st.