Gov. Haley Barbour said at a news conference Sunday that a massive oil spill might be contained without reaching Mississippi shores, but oil from the Deepwater Horizon had inched to within 9 miles of Plaquemines Parish and closer to marine nurseries that supply the Gulf of Mexico.
Federal waters were closed to fishing from the Mississippi River to Pensacola Bay.
“We are trying very, very hard to stop the leakage at the source,” said Adm. Thad W. Allen, commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard and lead federal official for the spill response. “This threat will not go away until a relief well is drilled to relieve the pressure and the current well is capped.”
However, British Petroleum reported some encouraging news Sunday. Dispersant is working to break up oil from the Deepwater Horizon well before it reaches the Gulf’s surface, BP spokesman Bill Salvin said. The dispersant has been widely used in the oil industry, but never at 5,000 feet below sea level.
BP first experimented with the dispersant Saturday. A second test Sunday went so well that the dispersant will continue to be used on the ocean floor, where 5,000 feet of crimped pipe is gushing oil in three places.
BP hopes to stop the gusher within a week through a subsea containment system, essentially large chambers of steel where the oil would be trapped, then piped to a tanker. The structures are being designed by company engineers in Houston and built in Port Fourshon, La., by Wild Well Control.