Crews Working To Clear Oil Spill Near Louisiana Last week, a deep-water drilling rig exploded, caught fire and sank off the coast of Louisiana. More than 5,000 barrels of oil spilled into the Gulf, and crews are preparing the fight it. NPR's Wade Goodwyn updates Melissa Block on the latest.
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Crews Working To Clear Oil Spill Near Louisiana

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Crews Working To Clear Oil Spill Near Louisiana

Crews Working To Clear Oil Spill Near Louisiana

Crews Working To Clear Oil Spill Near Louisiana

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Last week, a deep-water drilling rig exploded, caught fire and sank off the coast of Louisiana. More than 5,000 barrels of oil spilled into the Gulf, and crews are preparing the fight it. NPR's Wade Goodwyn updates Melissa Block on the latest.

BP: And Wade, we mentioned that the Coast Guard wanted to try an experimental burn off in the Gulf of Mexico this morning. I gather they ran into some trouble. What happened?

WADE GOODWYN: And even doing that is proving a lot trickier than they thought it was going to be. And while they hope to begin this this evening, it's been delayed.

: And has this been done before?

GOODWYN: So, even if this experiment works, this is not going to be a big fix. The burning is not going to compare, you know, with the skimmers, with the planes dropping dispersants. The dispersants are by far having the most impact following by the skimmers, which are a distant second.

: And, Wade, if they do get that burn-off to work, what would be left after that of the oil?

GOODWYN: It's a solid residue that's on the surface and it can be collected. If the residue washes ashore, it's not something that would damage wildlife. Certainly no comparison with a problem a gooey oil slick would propose. But, again, this is kind of more in the way of another bullet in the Coast Guard's arsenal.

: And we mentioned that they're now preparing coastal areas for what they fear is coming. Any sense of where the oil would be coming ashore and when it would hit?

GOODWYN: When you're talking hundreds of miles of coastline, you can see this is a defense of the most fragile areas only. There's no stopping this from coming ashore everywhere. And if it's going to be weeks of oil spilling out of this well before they could get it stopped, this could turn into quite an impressive mess.

: Now the Coast Guard said today that U.S. Fish and Wildlife officials are trying to figure out how to remove birds from these areas that could be affected by the oil. What would they do?

GOODWYN: Well, they're going to try to scare the birds away using propane cannons and pyrotechnics - modern scarecrows, if you will. The lead time has allowed the federal government a chance to scramble to the frontlines of the fight against the oil spill. But this looks like it's going to be a long drawn-out war. And there's no question but that the oil's going to break through the lines in a lot of places.

: And Wade, if these are nesting birds, that obviously poses all sorts of complications.

GOODWYN: Well, I mean, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife are going to try to do the best they can, but this is the calm before the storm and we'll see what's going to happen.

: Wade, thanks very much.

GOODWYN: It's my pleasure.

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