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Jun. 4 2010 - 12:13 pm | 1,526 views | 0 recommendations | 4 comments

BP ‘cap’ is latest in long line of failures

Oil gushes from the bottom of BP's cap, June 4

Oil continues to gush from a ‘cap’ put on top BP’s runaway well, not just from escape valves (which is expected), but from the seal on the bottom of the cap, which was supposed to nearly stop the flow of oil. Evidence of the cap’s failure was seen in a live BP video feed from the well site this morning showing the so-called “top hat” containment cap rocking from side to side.

One likely cause for the cap’s inability to make a tight seal is the failure of a diamond wire saw to make a clean cut through the attachment pipe. The diamond wire saw became jammed and BP had to use a giant shears cutting tool that leaves rough edges. Efforts to smooth the edges later appear not to have done enough to result in a good fit between the cap and the riser pipe.

Cap with fins visible at bottom

BP’s official position this morning is that the cap “should work,” according to company COO Doug Suttles.

“I’m actually pretty confident this is going to work,” he said on ABC’s Good Morning America today. “It probably won’t capture all the flow, but it should capture the vast majority.” Suttles had estimated a 90 percent capture rate talking on CBS earlier Friday.

Gallow’s humor is becoming more common on websites where experts gather to discuss the spill in real time. One contributor to the popular site The Oil Drum, speculated this morning that “Attempts after the top hat will be with the Scottish terrier, race car, and iron, in that order.” Those are player pieces in the board game Monopoly.

Meanwhile, pictures of oil-covered birds, some dead, are a reminder of the grim reality behind the spreading oil, which continues to flow into and across the Gulf of Mexico.

You can watch all 12 live BP “spillcams” on my blog, The Phoenix Sun, here.


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  1. collapse expand

    You’re probably right, Osha. But oil could still be coming out under the seal because they’re not yet pulling it up the pipe. They’re still pumping nitrogen down to prevent the methane hydrates from forming and very gradually reducing the pressure of the nitrogen. At least that’s what they’re saying. But you’re probably right.

  2. collapse expand

    I have read articles on news sites that stated one of the workers killed had made many complaints about safety prior to the accident. This concerns me and should concern every American as BP is not an American corp and should be held to a higher standard just for that reason alone. They don’t have to live here in this soupy mess. Our southeastern seaboard has just been trashed for about 50 years. Life will slowly creep back but not in our lifetime.

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    About Me

    I'm an investigative reporter and author living in the northern Sonoran Desert (Phoenix). I've been a regular contributor to Rolling Stone, Mother Jones, New York Times, LA Times, Salon, The Nation, and many other national publications.

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