Oil cleanup at Gulf rig blast site delayed

By CAIN BURDEAU – Associated Press Writer

NEW ORLEANS

Oil was leaking from a damaged well Sunday nearly a mile below the surface of the Gulf of Mexico, worrying officials who say the spill has the potential to threaten shores from Louisiana to possibly Florida.

Rough seas forced cleanup crews trying to vacuum and disperse the oily mess to take a second consecutive day off. Airplanes, boats and equipment were mobilized, but on standby as waves stopped them from trying to prevent the spreading oil from washing up on beaches, barrier islands and wetlands.

What appeared to a be manageable spill a couple of days ago after an oil rig exploded and sank off the Louisiana coast, has now turned into a more serious environmental problem. The new leak was discovered Saturday, and as much as 1,000 barrels — or 42,000 gallons — of oil is leaking each day, Coast Guard Rear Adm. Mary Landry said.

The new leak is troubling for the coast’s fragile ecosystem of shrimp, fish, birds and coral. Officials said it’s still too soon to say whether the sensitive habitat will be affected.

“What crude oil tends to do is float to surface and then under wave action it turns into what looks like chocolate mousse and sinks. It’s way too early to tell” the impact, said James Cowan, an oceanography and coastal sciences professor at Louisiana State University.

The initial spill occurred Tuesday when there was an explosion on the Deepwater Horizon about 50 miles off the Louisiana coast. More than 100 workers safely escaped the platform, which is about the size of two football fields, but 11 workers have not been found and are presumed dead.
Read more: http://www.sunherald.com/2010/04/25/2128154/oil-cleanup-at-gulf-rig-blast.html#ixzz0mDNWbgFU

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