Disastin the Gulf: Day 106


BP engineers are planning to get back to work Tuesday on a test they hope will end with a permanent seal on its blown-out well in the Gulf of Mexico, and the government has told us just how bad the accident was.

The disaster in the gulf is officially the worst accidental oil spill in history. According to new federal estimates, nearly five million barrels or about 206 million gallons of crude gushed from the ruptured well before it was capped 19 days ago.

"I think everybody would like to have this thing ended as soon as possible," said Adm. Thad Allen, National Incident Commander for the Coast Guard.

BP plans to test a procedure it hopes will permanently seal the well Tuesday. Tests of the static-kill were postponed Monday after crews discovered a small hydraulic leak. If all goes according to plan, engineers could slowly start pumping heavy mud and cement into the well to plug it.

"I don't think we can see this as the end all be all until we actually get the relief wells done," said Allen.

But even when the well is killed for good, BP's problems are far from over. According to published reports, the SEC is now investigating the company for possible insider trading.

Officials are reportedly looking into whether anyone profited illegally by using information about the spill that the public didn't have access to.

P did get some good news Monday. A new EPA study showed chemical dispersants used to break up the oil are no more toxic to sea life than the oil itself. But with the long-term effects still unknown, local officials want more assurances.

"We have to look our fisherman in the eye and say the federal government is committed to making sure you get your life back," said Billy Nungesser, Plaquemines Parish President.

They're calling for tests to continue for years to come.

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