No relief in site as oil spill reaches Louisiana shoreline

Oil from an open ocean well has reached the Louisiana shoreline, and British Petroleum and government officials acknowledge it may take up to three months to re-cap the source of the leak.

Speaking at a press briefing yesterday, Interior Deputy Secretary David Hayes said the only certain way of closing the leak is to put in a relief well. He expected it would take the same amount of time — 90 days — to drill a new well as it took to put in the original.

The spill was triggered by a BP oil rig explosion last week off the Louisiana coast. Eleven workers aboard the Deepwater Horizon oil rig at the time of the explosion are missing and presumed dead.

The amount of oil being spilled from the well is now estimated at 5,000 barrels (210,000 gallons or 955,000 liters) a day.

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs suggested President Obama could change his mind about re-opening certain coastal areas to offshore drilling, depending on what investigators determine was the cause of the leak.  David Axelrod, senior adviser to President Obama, also told ABC TV’s Good Morning America that there would be no new drilling until the cause of the Deepwater Horizon accident was determined.

The National Weather Service is predicting storms, winds, high tides and waves through the weekend that could push oil further into marshlands, lakes and ponds in southeast Louisiana.

The oil spill threatens hundreds of species of wildlife as well as the Louisiana and Mississippi fishing industries.

“For birds, the timing could not be worse; they are breeding, nesting and especially vulnerable in many of the places where the oil could come ashore,” said Melanie Driscoll an Audubon bird conservation director in Louisiana.

Kathlyn Stone

Kathlyn Stone is a Twin Cities, Minnesota-based writer who has covered general news, and business, international trade, and health care news and policies for public and professional audiences.