Mexico: A remote-controlled
submarine shot a chemical dispersant into the maw of a massive
undersea oil leak on Monday, further evidence that authorities
expect the gusher to keep erupting into the Gulf of Mexico for
weeks or more.
Crews using the deep-sea robot attempted to thin the oil
which is rushing up from the seabed at a pace of about
210,000 gallons (795,000 liters) per day after getting
approval from the Environmental Protection Agency, BP
spokesman Mark Proegler said to a news agency.
The agency had halted two previous rounds of the
dispersant to test its potential impact on the environment,
and approved a third round of spraying that began early on Monday,
Proegler said. An EPA spokeswoman didn`t immediately return
messages seeking comment.
BP engineers, casting about after an ice buildup thwarted
their plan to siphon off most of the leak using a 100-ton
containment box, pushed ahead with other potential short-term
solutions, including using a smaller box and injecting the
leak with junk to plug it.
However, none of these have been tried so deep about a
Workers were simultaneously drilling a relief well, the
solution considered most permanent, but that was expected take
up to three months.
At least 3.5 million gallons (13.3 million liters) were
believed to have leaked since an April 20 drilling rig blast
killed 11. If the gusher continues unabated, in about a month
it would surpass the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster as the worst
US oil spill.
The engineers appear to be "trying anything people can
think of" to stop the leak, said Ed Overton, a Louisiana State
University professor of environmental studies.
Back on land, authorities in Louisiana deployed
helicopters to drop sandbags the size of elephants along
barrier islands and marshes already being lapped at by a sheen
of oil. Authorities also planned to use south Louisiana`s
system of locks and levees to release water to help keep the
worst of the oil at sea.
BP which is responsible for the cleanup said Monday
the spill has cost it USD 350 million so far for immediate
response, containment efforts, commitments to the Gulf Coast
states, and settlements and federal costs. The company did not
speculate on the final bill, which most analysts expect to run
into tens of billions of dollars.