BP said Wednesday that efforts to contain and clean up oil gushing from a ruptured pipe in the Gulf of Mexico have made a “measurable difference” even as Louisiana’s governor announced that thick, heavy oil has begun polluting the state’s wetlands and estuaries.
Doug Suttles, BP’s chief operating officer for exploration and production, said at a news conference that the company is “very pleased” with the performance of an insertion tube that was put in place over the weekend to suck crude oil from the well and funnel it to a surface vessel.
The flow rate from the tube has reached 3,000 barrels of crude (126,000 gallons) and 14 million cubic feet of gas a day, Suttles said, adding that crews hope to increase those numbers in coming days.
He said favorable weather conditions have also played a major role in cleanup efforts. About 14,000 barrels of oily water was skimmed Tuesday, and 50 percent of that mixture was oil, he said, adding that crews continue to deploy boom and conduct controlled burns.
But Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana says the efforts haven’t stopped oil from reaching his state’s coastline. Thicker, heavier oil than seen in previous days has blanketed some of the state’s precious interior wetlands, he said, and he called for the Army Corps of Engineers to approve an emergency permit to dredge sand from barrier islands to create sand booms as another line of defense.
“These are not tar balls, this is not sheen, this is heavy oil that we are seeing in our wetlands,” Jindal said.
Video from Pass a Loutre in Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana, showed oil with a syrupy consistency lapping against reeds in a small area of marshland after creeping past booms and barriers.
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