Huge Hazzards Face Today's Gulf Oil Containment Effort

HopeTracker| The barge Joe Griffin carrying a 100-ton concrete-and-steel chamber designed to siphon off oil spewing from the Deepwater Horizon oil drilling platform has arrived at the site. AP reports that another boat with a crane plans to start lowering the box to the seafloor later in the day.

Thick, tar-like oil surrounded the boat for as far as the eye could see. The pungent scent of oil could be smelled even in the bridge of the boat. via AP

Responding to unconfirmed reports that oil from the spill had arrived in the Chandeleur Islands off Louisiana’s coast, a rapid reponse team is headed to the location.

The dome-like top of the structure is designed to act like a funnel and siphon the 200,000 gallons of oil a day gushing from the location up through 5,000 feet of pipe and onto a tanker at the surface.

That process presents several challenges because of the frigid water temperature — about 42 degrees Fahrenheit — and exceptionally high pressure at those depths. Those conditions could cause the pipe to clog with what are known in the drilling industry as “ice plugs.” To combat that problem, crews plan to continuously pump warm water and methanol down the pipe to dissolve the clogging.

They are also worried about volatile cocktail of oil, gas and water when it arrives on the ship above. Engineers believe the liquids can be safely separated without an explosion. via AP