RENEE MONTAGNE, Host:
This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning, I'm Renee Montagne.
MARY LOUISE KELLY, Host:
Joining us to talk about this effort is NPR science correspondent, Richard Harris. Hey, Richard.
RICHARD HARRIS: Good morning.
LOUISE KELLY: So we've heard a lot about Hurricane Alex. What's the actual impact been in the Gulf?
HARRIS: So I was just checking the weather buoys, it was - the waves were showing. There were still, like, ten-foot waves a couple of days ago. They're now down to five feet but there's still rough seas out there.
LOUISE KELLY: And a lot of us have been glued to this underwater camera. Tell us what it looks like now, at the moment, at the bottom of the Gulf.
HARRIS: But right now, that pipe is going from the blowout preventer just up to this - a giant floating cylinder that's floating about 300 feet below the surface of Gulf. What they're waiting for the weather to cooperate with them to do is to connect that huge floating cylinder to a ship on the surface, to actually take on that oil.
LOUISE KELLY: Okay. And what about - we talked about the surface, we talked about skimming efforts being slowed down a little bit. How are those efforts going, trying to collect the oil that has actually made it up to the surface of the ocean?
HARRIS: So far they're saying that the tests with that ship are inconclusive.
LOUISE KELLY: Okay. So, Richard, it sounds like weather remains obviously a huge factor in all this. And that the best case scenario would be that they might be able to start capturing most of the oil in the next couple of days, by this weekend. That's a very different thing from actually stopping the flow of the oil. What are the prospects for that?
HARRIS: Well, those are still fairly hopeful, we hope.
(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)
HARRIS: But ultimately, when they get to exactly where they want to be, they'll put a special drill bit on and drill into the outer steel well of the well. They will bore into it and pump in heavy fluid. And if they're lucky that heavy fluid will just essentially fill up the well from the bottom and the well will stop. And then they can pump in the cement.
HARRIS: So that's the hope for finishing that. If we're lucky, that'll be end of July. The official target dates are early to mid-August.
LOUISE KELLY: Early to mid-August. Okay, thanks very much.
HARRIS: My pleasure.
LOUISE KELLY: That's NPR science correspondent Richard Harris.
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