It’s a terrible mess, and anything they try to fix it will be nothing more than educated guesswork. Yes, there was culpability from every direction, but I can’t focus on blaming anyone right now. I just want this nightmare to stop:
HOUSTON — BP engineers struggled Friday to plug a gushing oil well a mile under the sea, but as of late in the day they had made little headway in stemming the flow.
Amid mixed messages about problems and progress, the effort — called a “top-kill” — continued for a third day, with engineers describing a painstaking process of trying to plug the hole, using different weights of mud and sizes of debris like golf balls and tires, and then watching and waiting. They cannot use brute force because they risk making the leak worse if they damage the pipes leading down to the well.
Despite an apparent lack of progress, officials said they would continue with the process for another 48 hours, into Sunday, before giving up and considering other options, including another containment dome to try to capture the oil.
President Obama, who visited the Gulf Coast on Friday, spoke broadly about the government’s response to the environmental disaster, saying that “not every judgment we make will be right the first time out.”
He also added, seemingly capturing the mood of engineers working to plug the well: “There are going to be a lot of judgment calls here. There are not going to be silver bullets or perfect answers.”
Nor were there perfect answers Friday about the status of the top kill effort. For the second day, public statements early in the day from BP and government officials seemed to suggest progress. Only later in the day did they acknowledge that the effort was no closer to succeeding than when they started.
“We’re going to stay with this as long as we need to,” Doug Suttles, BP’s chief operating officer for exploration and production, said late Friday afternoon. “We’re not going to rush.”