Government Halts BP's Testing of New Cap

By: Ashton King Email
By: Ashton King Email

Day 86 of the disaster in the gulf is starting with another delay.

BP was eager to begin testing the new cap it fitted over the broken well, but the government is saying "not so fast."

Engineers are still waiting to see whether this new cap can stop the gushing oil. Federal officials put the brakes on Tuesday’s critical test before it ever began.

The government’s point man for the spill wants to see more analysis first. He called for the delay after reviewing preliminary data with scientists and BP officials. Experts say going slow makes sense.

"We don't want to get in a hurry because the last time people got in a hurry, it caused the problem,” said Ed Overton, Professor Emeritus of Environmental Sciences at LSU. “That's why we're here – because the drilling folks got in a hurry."

Tara Mergener reports, “But as the crisis drags-on, a new CBS News poll shows more than half of Americans disapprove of how President Obama is handling it. The White House says he’ll make his fifth visit to the Gulf Coast soon.”

It’s not clear how long the cap test will be postponed.

When BP gets the go-ahead, engineers will close two valves to trap most of the leak. Then a robotic submarine will gradually shut a third valve called the choke line while sensors measure the well’s pressure.

“While it may be counterintuitive to some, in this exercise high pressure is good,” said Adm. Thad Allen, national incident commander.

High pressure means the well is holding up and the cap can shut off the leak. Low pressure means oil may be escaping from somewhere else, and BP will need to keep containment ships hooked up to suck the oil to the surface.

Relief wells are still BP’s permanent fix. The company temporarily halted operations on its second relief well so it wouldn’t interfere with the first one, which is close to intercepting the broken well.


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