Jane Van Ryan
Posted May 7, 2010
All eyes are on the Gulf of Mexico today as BP positions the 100-ton containment chamber over the leaking riser on the seabed.
Chambers like this one, also called cofferdams, have been used in shallower water, but never at depths of 5,000 feet. BP says after the chamber is fully assembled, its effectiveness in capturing the leaking oil can be assessed.
In the meantime, there are several related news items to report:
- The Department of the Interior (DOI) announced late yesterday that no applications for offshore drilling permits will go forward until it completes the review process requested by President Obama. In a news release, DOI also said it will not make a final decision on permits for exploratory wells in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas in Alaska until the report to the president has been evaluated.
- The Interior Department also indefinitely postponed the public hearings scheduled for later this month on Virginia Lease Sale 220, which proposes to open a tract in the Atlantic Ocean for energy development. Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell said the sale, now scheduled for 2012, would not necessarily be delayed. (The Washington Post)
- The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) today expanded the commercial and recreational fishing closure in the oil-affected portion of the Gulf. The closed area encompasses slightly less that 4.5 percent of the Gulf. The fishing restriction has been extended until May 17.
- The Breton National Wildlife Refuge has been closed to the public. This covers the Chandeleur Islands chain (Chandeleur, Grand Gossier, Curlew, New Harbor Island, North Islands and Free Mason). The closure will allow personnel conducting cleanup operations to work safely and efficiently.
- A BP-led initiative is creating an army of volunteers to deal with the oil when it comes ashore. BP reported today that 4,000 volunteers have been trained so far. About 30,000 people have expressed an interest in participating in the cleanup effort.
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