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Disaster in the Gulf: Day 105

By: CBS
By: CBS

It's day 105 of the BP oil spill. BP engineers may soon be taking a big step to shut it down.

As early as Monday night BP could begin plugging its blown-out well for good.

"We've got the equipment to perform the static kill, and once we get the casing cemented we'll actually begin the operation," said BP’s Chief Operating Officer Doug Suttles.

The so-called static kill method involves pumping heavy mud and cement into the well. After that, engineers will use the relief well to pump more mud and cement into the underground reservoir sealing it permanently.

Since BP successfully capped the well, no oil has leaked. As for the crude already floating in the gulf, skimming boats and chemical dispersants have been used to contain it.

Tara Mergener reports, “The use of dispersants is raising new concerns. BP and federal officials say more than 1.8 million gallons have been used to break up the oil, but some lawmakers believe it's actually much more.”

A new report by a congressional subcommittee accuses the Coast Guard of letting BP overuse the chemicals despite EPA orders to use them sparingly.

"There has been an unprecedented underwater science experiment going on for months where toxic chemicals have been shot into toxic oil," said Rep. Ed Markey, D-MA.

But BP says it followed federal rules by cutting back, and has always worked closely with the government.

"We've had a formal process with the unified command on the use of dispersant since the very beginning, and that was based on a set of protocols that were agreed," said Suttles.

The environmental effects of the chemicals are still unknown, but BP is investing $500 million to research the spill's impact over the next decade.


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