Events May 14, Day 25 of a Gulf of Mexico oil spill that began with an explosion and fire on April 20 on the drilling rig Deepwater Horizon, owned by Transocean Ltd. and leased by BP PLC, which is in charge of cleanup and containment. The blast killed 11 workers. Since then, oil has been pouring into the Gulf from a blown-out undersea well at about 210,000 gallons per day.
PIPE INSIDE A PIPE
Out on the Gulf, BP engineers were working on a seemingly simple but risky maneuver — threading a mile-long, 6-inch tube into the 21-inch pipe gushing oil from the ocean floor. Technicians gingerly moving joysticks to guide deep-sea robots aimed to place the tube into the leak. BP only went ahead with the plan after X-raying the well pipe to make sure it would hold up with the stopper inside, spokesman David Nicholas said. They also had to check for any debris inside that may have been keeping the oil at bay — dislodging it threatened to amplify the geyser.
Federal regulators have approved another tool for stanching the flow from the oil spill: BP can now shoot chemicals directly at the leak, 5,000 feet below, to break apart the oil before it reaches the surface. U.S. Coast Guard Rear Adm. Mary Landry said the Environmental Protection Agency approved use of the chemicals, called dispersants, after three underwater tests.
'A RIDICULOUS SPECTACLE'
President Barack Obama sternly took the companies involved in the disaster to task for their finger-pointing, calling it a "ridiculous spectacle." Obama said that during congressional hearings, executives for BP, Transocean and Halliburton were "falling over each other to point the finger of blame at somebody else." The president said he will not tolerate any more of it and added that all parties — including the federal government — should be prepared to accept blame.
COZY NO MORE
Obama also pledged an end to the cozy relationship between federal regulators and companies drilling offshore for oil and gas. The president said a lack of vigilant oversight contributed to explosion and oil spill. He said federal regulators sometimes have approved drilling plans based on the oil companies promising to use safe practices. He said the rule from now on will be "trust but verify."
HOW MUCH IS LEAKING?
Obama said it's unclear exactly how much oil is leaking into the Gulf. But he said the government is ready to handle a potentially "catastrophic event." Obama said Friday that no one knows exactly how much oil is leaking because human inspectors cannot reach the mile-deep well head. He said he would not rest until the leak is stopped, the oil is contained and cleaned up, and people of the Gulf region resume normal lives.
'AS BAD AS I THOUGHT'
Vice President Joe Biden said the federal government's oversight of offshore drilling "was as bad as I thought it was." Biden was responding to a question about a New York Times story published Friday about Gulf of Mexico drilling plans that received approval from the Obama administration without the permits required under the Endangered Species Act and the Marine Mammal Protection Act. Biden told Pittsburgh radio station KDKA he thought lax federal oversight of permits was a problem throughout his six-term Senate career.
HUGE TAR BALLS
Louisiana wildlife officials found huge tar balls littering the beach at Port Fourchon, south of New Orleans, some of them 8 inches across. Laura Deslatte, a spokeswoman for the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, said the glossy globs of oil were found along the entire beach at Port Fourchon. Workers from her department have not yet seen so much oil washed up anywhere else.
In Mississippi, officials were testing tar balls that washed up on that state's shores to determine if it came from the Gulf spill.