After an accident involving the containment system, the Gulf gusher is spewing oil at full force yet again. Here's the breaking news blast from the Washington Post:
Adm. Thad Allen said Wednesday that an accident triggered the removal of a containment cap on the oil geyser. Officials are examining the cap to look for hydrate formation and hope to replace it on the gushing well.
The Associated Press reports that a robotic vehicle hit the containment dome's venting system, which caused gas to rise through the vent. The system cares warm water through the dome to keep ice-like crystals from forming, which is what foiled previous capping attempts.
BP said that between the containment dome and burning off the oil at the surface, they captured 27,100 barrels yesterday. Now all that oil is gushing unrestrained into the Gulf again, as the video feed shows.
How much oil? We still don't know for sure. The last official government estimate said it could be as high as 60,000 barrels per day. But Allen also said earlier this week that BP and the Coast Guard have set a goal of raising their siphoning capacity to 60,000 to 80,000 barrels a day by mid-July, which would indicate to me that the latest official estimate is still lowballing the total flow.
UPDATE: Here's what the official press release from Unified Command says:
This morning at approximately 8:45 a.m. CDT, a discharge of liquids was observed from a diverter valve on the drill ship Discoverer Enterprise,which is on station at the MC252 well-site. As a precautionary measure,the lower marine riser package (LMRP) containment cap system, attached to the Discover Enterprise, has been moved off the Deepwater Horizon's failed blow-out preventer to ensure the safety of operations and allow the unexpected release of liquids to be analyzed.
Capture of oil and gas through the LMRP cap is therefore temporarily suspended until such time that the cap can be re-installed. Capture of oil and gas through the BOP's choke line to the Q4000 vessel on the surface continues.
UPDATE 2: More horrifying news: Allen also said that two cleanup workers have died. Reuters reports: "The deaths did not appear work-related but were under investigation, he said."