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BP's Latest Plan Could Boost Oil Flow Temporarily

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BP's Latest Plan Could Boost Oil Flow Temporarily


BP's Latest Plan Could Boost Oil Flow Temporarily

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  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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This is MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.

BP has abandoned one effort to plug the leak spewing oil into the Gulf of Mexico, and it's crafting a new plan. This one would capture the oil, but it risks, at least temporarily, making things worse.

White House energy czar Carol Browner says nothing is likely to completely stop the leak anytime soon.

Ms. CAROL BROWNER (Director, White House Office of Energy and Climate Change Policy): I think what the American people need to know that it is possible we will have oil leaking from this well until August, when the relief wells will be finished.

MONTAGNE: On the Louisiana coast, cleanup crews are settling in for a long stay, and residents watch it all with a sense of growing dismay.

NPR's Frank Morris reports.

FRANK MORRIS: As oil continued to gush from a ruptured well a mile below the surface of the ocean Sunday, the sky churned above it.

(Soundbite of thunder)

MORRIS: Strong thunderstorms rolled across the Mississippi River Delta. And Michael Dixon, a lieutenant in charge of oil recovery operations here at the Coast Guard's Venice staging area, says the weather shut down cleanup efforts early for the day.

Lieutenant MICHAEL DIXON (U.S. Coast Guard): The weather was pretty severe out at a couple of the field sites. There were water spouts spotted, a lot of lightning, and so the crews chose to come in.

MORRIS: The storms also roiled the already complicated oil spill.

Lt. DIXON: The way that the currents are treating this and the ongoing leaking of oil, this is basically small spills all over the place. It's a series of a lot of small oil spills. We're fighting on a lot of fronts.

MORRIS: And so the Coast Guard is digging in.

(Soundbite of banging sound)

MORRIS: Workers hired by BP unload oil-containment booms shipped in from as far away as Britain and Brazil. Four days ago, BP and the Coast Guard moved the command post into trailers. They're already ready to break ground on a permanent headquarters building.

Lt. DIXON: Because this is - it's clear that this is going to be a long-term operation, they're putting in a full, like, structure to do all of our planning and operations out of over here.

MORRIS: But for all the work happening down in Venice, most people in the Mississippi River Delta feel exposed. In Buras, most of the shrimp boats are idle. Only one's being unloaded: Bruce Richard's(ph).

Unidentified Man #1: Altogether with (unintelligible).

(Soundbite of birds chirping)

Mr. BRUCE RICHARD (Fisherman): Defenseless.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. RICHARD: Definitely, you know?

MORRIS: As he gazes out across the Gulf of Mexico toward the advancing oil, Richard says he just doesn't understand why a wealthy, sophisticated oil company can't plug a hole.

Mr. RICHARD: If I got a hole in my net, I know what to do. Patch it. And I know how to patch it, all right. So what's the problem here? What are you going to do to patch this?

MORRIS: BP is moving to install a new containment device over the ruptured well, one company officials hope will capture some of the oil spewing from the well and allow them to collect it on ships. It's a maneuver that could make matters worse - at least, temporarily. Disheartening as all this news is, it's not enough to keep Louisianans from enjoying something they consider a state treasure: their seafood.

(Soundbite of song, "Jambalaya")

Unidentified Man #2: (Singing) Jambalaya, crawfish pie with gumbo, 'cause tonight I'm gonna see my ma cher amio.

MORRIS: On the last day of the annual Plaquemines Parish Seafood Festival. Patrick Lynn(ph) is down from New Orleans.

Mr. PATRICK LYNN: Initial reaction was: We better get out here and eat this good seafood while it's still around.

MORRIS: For most, like Steve Cazobine(ph), the spill is devastating.

Mr. STEVE CAZOBINE: It's - as bad as it is now, it's going to get a lot worse. Even if they're able to stop it in August with the relief wells that they're trying to dig, that - they're not sure that's going to work, either - we'll have three times - at least three times the amount of oil out there that's out there now.

MORRIS: All this leaves some people questioning whether there will be a seafood festival here next year.

Frank Morris, NPR News, Buras, Louisiana.

MONTAGNE: And you can follow our continuing coverage of the oil spill on the NPR News app, which is available on most mobile devices.

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