Louisiana – British Petroleum deployed Wednesday a giant “dome” to contain the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, knowing failure will leave crude spewing into the sea for months and magnify the risk of an environmental catastrophe. A crane lowered the five-story, 100-ton dome onto the “Joe Griffin,” a barge that will take it on the 12-hour journey from Port Fourchon to the epicenter of the disaster, some 80 kilometers off the Louisiana coast.
The dome, a huge white silo resembling some kind of spacecraft, carries with it the hopes of coastal communities from Texas to Florida whose livelihoods are under threat from the toxic slick. As today patches of oil crept to within two miles of the Louisiana bayous. An oyster fisherman spotted a large patch of oil sheen near the border between St. Bernard and Plaquemines parishes, about 40 miles southeast of New Orleans.
At least two oil-covered birds, one of them a brown pelican, have been found offshore, the National Wildlife Foundation reported Tuesday. In addition, the conservation group reported finding a loggerhead turtle, a threatened species, gasping for air in the oil slick about 65 miles off the mouth of the Mississippi River.
BP succeeded in capping overnight the smallest of three leaks hemorrhaging crude into the Gulf of Mexico and was preparing to carry out a second controlled burn to keep the slick at bay. No populated areas are expected to be affected. The Environmental Protection Agency will monitor air quality and burning will be halted if safety standards cannot be maintained, officials said. Oil is still gushing into the sea at a rate of about 800,000 litres a day, but officials say working with only two leaks makes tackling the spill easier.