Static kill making progress

No more oil is likely to leak into the Gulf of Mexico now that efforts to plug the blown-out well are succeeding, the government’s point man on the spill declared Wednesday. A relieved President Barack Obama said the fight to stop the leak is “finally close to coming to an end.”

In this image taken from video provided by BP PLC Tuesday

In this image taken from video provided by BP PLC Tuesday

WASHINGTON — No more oil is likely to leak into the Gulf of Mexico now that efforts to plug the blown-out well are succeeding, the government’s point man on the spill declared Wednesday. A relieved President Barack Obama said the fight to stop the leak is “finally close to coming to an end.”

At the White House, National Incident Commander Adm. Thad Allen said oil company BP’s effort to plug the leak was progressing, giving officials “high confidence” that there will soon be no more oil leaking into the environment. The upbeat assessment came as a government report released Wednesday said only about a quarter of the spilled oil remains in the Gulf. The rest has been contained, cleaned up or has otherwise disappeared.

Obama’s team, however, was careful to emphasize that much work remains, from cleanup to damage assessment to help for hurting families. Obama said people’s lives “have been turned upside down” by the spill.

And White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters, “There’s a lot of reasons why there’s no ’Mission Accomplished’ banner.”

“There’s a lot of work to do,” he said. “We’re not leaving the area, and more importantly, we’re not leaving behind any commitment to clean up the damage that’s been done and repair and restore the Gulf.”

Jane Lubchenco, head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said the spill’s effect on wildlife will continue for “years and possibly decades to come.”

BP PLC earlier Wednesday announced it had reached a significant milestone when mud that was forced down the well held back the flow of crude in a procedure known as a “static kill.”

Government officials defended the credibility of their report saying about 75 per cent of the oil is gone. They said that description is based on direct measurements of the spill as well as estimates, and that the instruments they’ve used to capture the scope of the disaster have improved since it began April 20.

In Congress, lawmakers pressed scientists to explain what effects a chemical used to get rid of some of the oil will have on the Gulf’s ecosystem.

BP applied nearly 2 million gallons of a chemical dispersant to the oil as it spewed from the broken underwater well. The aim was to break apart the oil into tiny droplets so huge slicks wouldn’t tarnish shorelines and coat marine animals, and to make the oil degrade more rapidly.

The government report released Wednesday shows that 9.6 per cent of the estimated 172 million gallons of oil released into the Gulf of Mexico was dispersed by the chemicals.

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., called use of the chemicals a “grand experiment.” He said it was unclear whether it would limit damage from the spill, or cause greater harm.

Paul Anastas, the assistant administrator for the Office of Research and Development at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, said that while the effects of such a large quantity of dispersants are unknown, tests so far have not found dispersants near coasts or wetlands. Laboratory tests conducted by the EPA comparing the chemicals to oil alone and to mixtures of oil and dispersants also show that they are not more toxic.

“When you look at all of the tools to combat this tragedy . . . dispersants have shown to be one important tool in that toolbox,” Anastas told lawmakers.

But several independent scientists testifying before the panel Wednesday faulted the EPA testing.

“A laboratory experiment . . . doesn’t help us understand much of the environmental chemistry or its effects on other parts of the ecosystem,” said Ronald Kendall, director of the Institute of Environmental and Human Health at Texas Tech University.

The chemical — Corexit 9500 — was on a federal list of preapproved dispersants, but in May the EPA directed BP to use less of the toxic chemical because its long-term effects were unknown.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The QEII was closed Sunday morning due to a pole fire. (Photo courtesy City of Red Deer)
UPDATE: QEII near Red Deer reopens

The QEII has been reopened after being closed due to a pole… Continue reading

Innisfail RCMP are investigating a single-vehicle crash that happened west of Bowden on March 21, 2021. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Bashaw RCMP investigate fatal collision in central Alberta

Bashaw RCMP are investigating after a fatal collision Saturday afternoon. Police were… Continue reading

A damaged unicorn statue is shown in a field outside of Delia, Alta. in this undated handout photo. It's not often police can report that a unicorn has been found, but it was the truth Saturday when RCMP said a stolen, stainless-steel statue of the mythical beast had been located in a field not far from where he'd been taken. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, RCMP *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Mounties get their unicorn; stolen statue of mythical beast found in Alberta field

DELIA, Alta. — It’s not often police can report that a unicorn… Continue reading

Red Deer Rebels forward Ethan Rowland battles with Medicine Hat Tigers forward Brett Kemp during WHL action at the Centrium Saturday night. (Photo by ROB WALLATOR/Red Deer Rebels)
Tigers claw back, hand Rebels 11th straight loss

Tigers 5 Rebels 2 The same old issues continue to plague the… Continue reading

There were six additional deaths across Alberta reported over the past 24 hours, bringing the death toll to 1,926 since the beginning of the pandemic. (File photo)
Investigators from the Vancouver Police Department were in Chilliwack Saturday, collecting evidence connected to a double homicide. (file photo)
Police investigate shooting death of man outside downtown Vancouver restaurant

Vancouver police say one man was killed in what they believe was… Continue reading

Dr. E. Kwok administers a COVID-19 vaccine to a recipient at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to start registering people 18 years and older for COVID-19 vaccines

VICTORIA — The British Columbia government says it’s inviting people 18 years… Continue reading

San Jose's Tomas Hertl, center, celebrates with teammates Patrick Marleau, left, and Rudolfs Blacers, right, after Hertl scored a goal during the first period of an NHL hockey game against the Minnesota Wild, Friday, April 16, 2021, in St. Paul, Minn. (AP Photo/Stacy Bengs)
Patrick Marleau set to break Gordie Howe’s games record

For Patrick Marleau, the best part about Monday night when he is… Continue reading

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaks during a press briefing at the White House, Tuesday, April 13, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Half of U.S. adults have received at least one COVID-19 shot

WASHINGTON — Half of all adults in the U.S. have received at… Continue reading

People are shown at a COVID-19 vaccination site in Montreal, Sunday, April 18, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Federal government to send health-care workers to Ontario, Trudeau says

MONTREAL — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says federal departments and some Canadian… Continue reading

People cross a busy street in the shopping district of Flushing on Tuesday, March 30, 2021, in the Queens borough of New York. Access to the COVID-19 vaccine in the United States is growing by the day. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Kathy Willens
Despite COVID-19 vaccines, Americans in D.C. not feeling celebratory — or charitable

WASHINGTON — This might make Canadians jealous of their American cousins for… Continue reading

A man pays his respects at a roadside memorial in Portapique, N.S. on Thursday, April 23, 2021. RCMP say at least 22 people are dead after a man who at one point wore a police uniform and drove a mock-up cruiser, went on a murder rampage in Portapique and several other Nova Scotia communities. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
Memorial service in Nova Scotia marks one year since mass shooting started

TRURO, N.S. — A memorial service is planned for today in central… Continue reading

In this April 23, 2016, photo, David Goethel sorts cod and haddock while fishing off the coast of New Hampshire. To Goethel, cod represents his identity, his ticket to middle class life, and his link to one the country's most historic industries, a fisherman who has caught New England's most recognized fish for more than 30 years. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)
‘It’s more than just a fish:’ Scientists worry cod will never come back in N.L.

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — The latest assessment of Atlantic cod stocks, whose… Continue reading

Most Read