New Leak In the Gulf?

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BP has reported success in closing in the Gulf well with its new dome, but all is not well in the Gulf yet. Thad Allen, the incident commander for the Gulf disaster, sent a letter to BP last night asking for more information about “a seep a distance from the well and undetermined anomalies at the well head.”

The letter doesn’t offer much in the way of detail about the seep, but the acknowledgment of an additional leak is a bad sign; it could mean that the well is damaged enough that oil is escaping through other avenues. Allen granted BP permission to keep the well closed off for another 24 hours while tests and observation of this new leak continue.

Allen’s letter demanded a new response plan for the well, given the concerns about the leak and questions about how much damage the wellhead may have sustained:

As a continued condition of the test, you are required to provide as a top priority access and coordination for the monitoring systems, which include seismic and sonar surface ships and subsea ROV and acoustic systems. When seeps are detected, you are directed to marshal resources, quickly investigate, and report findings to the government in no more than four hours. I direct you to provide me a written procedure for opening the choke valve as quickly as possible without damaging the well should hydrocarbon seepage near the well head be confirmed.

 

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You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

The months and years ahead won't be easy. Far from it. But there's no one we'd rather face the big challenges with than you, our committed and passionate readers, and our team of fearless reporters who show up every day.

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