It isn’t as bad as the original leak, but less than two miles away oil is still seeping slowly into the ocean floor in the Gulf of Mexico, government officials say.
Additional leaks due to building pressure have been a major concern since the leak was capped last week, but scientists are calling the new leak “insignificant,” meaning it doesn’t seem large enough to rupture the sea floor and make the crisis even worse.
In addition to the new leak, small amounts of oil and gas started coming from the cap late Sunday, but “we do not believe it is consequential at this time,” retired Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen said.
Allen also says the new seepage detected may have nothing to do with the cap since oil and gas ooze naturally from the ocean floor in the Gulf.
At a Monday afternoon briefing in Washington, Allen said BP could keep the cap closed at least another 24 hours, as long as the company monitored consistently for leaks.
Since the cap was closed Thursday, beachgoers have reported less oil fouling the shore.
Bob Broadway, 41, of Huntsville, Ala., said his vacation spot in Orange Beach, Ala., has improved from a month ago.
Then, he said, the oil was thick “like chocolate” and the beach smelled like “an old mechanic’s garage.”
“The beach looks better now than before,” he said Monday.
While exact numbers aren’t known, scientists say that between 94 million and 184 million gallons have been released into Gulf waters over the past three months. The cost of dealing with the crisis has now reached nearly $4 billion.
GOOD NEWS: BEACHES CLEANER
Since the leak was capped, beachgoers say there is less oil on the shores than there was a month ago, which one Alabama resident described as smelling like “an old mechanic’s garage.”
THE RELIEF WELL
Work on the permanent fix, the relief well, is continuing and scientists say that by next week, they could start sending in mud and cement to seal the well for good underground.
The federal judge who overturned the Obama administration’s initial six-month moratorium on deepwater oil drilling has refused to step down from the case. Several environmental groups had asked U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman to withdraw because of his investments in several oil and gas companies.
RECREATIONAL FISHING OPENED IN MISSISSIPPI SOUND
The Mississippi Sound is again open to catch-and-release recreational fishing as of Tuesday. Commercial fishing is still closed.
More than a third of the Gulf of Mexico remains closed in areas where many locals ate fish from the water every day.