Gov't. Tells BP to Prepare to Remove Cap from Well

By: Ashton King Email
By: Ashton King Email

There appears to be growing tension between BP and the government over what to do next with the broken well in the Gulf.

BP wants to keep its containment cap in place, but government scientists have apparently discovered a seep that has federal officials very concerned.

Possible seepage detected near the ruptured well could mean trouble for BP's containment cap.

In a letter to the company Sunday, Admiral Thad Allen, the government's point man for the disaster, ordered the company to "quickly investigate, and report findings to the government", and provide "a written procedure for opening the choke valve as quickly as possible".

Since the well was capped last Thursday, officials have been worried the pressure buildup would cause oil or methane gas to begin pouring out.

Earlier Sunday, BP's chief operating officer had expressed hope the cap could stay put until a relief well can permanently seal the leak next month.

"We're hopeful that if encouraging signs continue we'll be able to continue the integrity tests all the way up to the point that we get the well killed," said BP COO Doug Suttles.

Tara Mergener reports, “Federal officials will ultimately decide what to do next. The original plan was to pipe more oil to surface ships to relieve some of the pressure. But that would mean more oil flowing into the Gulf for up to three days.”

“No one wants to see oil flowing back into the sea and to reinitiate containment would require that to occur," said Suttles.

It's unclear how much longer testing of the cap will continue. But Gulf Coast residents are holding their breath every step of the way.

"We see light at the end of the tunnel,” said Billy Nungesser, president of Plaquemines Parish, La. “It's a very long tunnel, but we're making progress."

Progress they hope isn't stalled by the potential new trouble on the ocean floor.

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