Here's a link to find out the daily events relating to the Gulf Oil Spill.
Here's what today's report includes:
Rep. Henry Waxman said his committee's investigation into the Gulf oil spill revealed that a key safety device, the blowout preventer, had a leak in a crucial hydraulic system. The California Democrat said in a second day of hearings into the spill that the investigation also discovered that the well had failed a negative pressure test just hours before the April 20 explosion.
A SMALLER FUNNEL
BP PLC announced Wednesday that a new containment box — a cylinder called a "top hat" — was on the sea floor near the wild well that has spewed at least 4 million gallons into the Gulf of Mexico. Engineers hope to work out ways to avoid the problem that scuttled an earlier effort with a much bigger box before they move the cylinder over the end of the 5,000-foot-long pipe from the well. The 100-ton box filled up with an ice-like slush of gas and water, lifting it up and clogging its nozzle.
BP also has another plan it might try to siphon oil away from the unchecked well. BP chief operating officer Doug Suttles said Wednesday that engineers hope to link a second pipe to the end of the pipe that was supposed to pump oil from the sea floor before the Deepwater Horizon sunk. The pipe will funnel away the oil that's collected in that original piping, called the riser. Suttles said it could arrive Wednesday and be usable by Thursday or Friday.
LIKE STEAM FROM A GEYSER
Video released by BP showed oil spewing from a yellowish, broken pipe 5,000 feet below the surface. The oil looks like steam rushing from a geyser. The stream occasionally can be seen becoming lighter as natural gas mixes into the gusher. Natural gas has been flowing from the well since the beginning. Suttles said the rate natural gas has been flowing out hasn't changed in the 21 days since the Deepwater Horizon exploded.
FOOTING THE BILL
The White House has asked Congress to raise a liability cap that could limit how much BP has to pay in economic damages. The administration also wants to increase a per-barrel tax on oil companies to replenish a cleanup fund. President Barack Obama also sent a proposal to bring more unemployment assistance and food stamps to help fishermen along the Gulf Coast.
MORE TAR BALLS
The Coast Guard said 4-inch tar balls have been reported along beaches in eastern Alabama. Scientists still have to test the oil, which came ashore several miles west of the Florida state line, to see if it came from the spill. Coast Guard Rear Adm. Mary Landry said Wednesday that testing has confirmed tar balls that washed ashore west at Dauphin Island, Ala., on Saturday were from the spill. Landry said the Coast Guard also found tar balls at South Pass, La., at the end of the Mississippi River, and on the southern end of the Chandeleur Islands, east of New Orleans.
Louisiana officials also said tar balls were found on Whiskey Island off the coast of Louisiana, the farthest point west oil has been seen so far.
Mexican officials fear the Gulf oil spill could reach their coasts if the leak is not stopped by August, when seasonal currents start to reverse and flow south. So far, prevailing currents have carried at least 4 million gallons of spilled oil from a damaged BP well toward the north and east, away from Mexico and toward U.S. shores. But those currents start to shift by August. The currents will be completely reversed by October.
A Minerals Management Service official said a blitz inspection of deepwater drilling rigs turned up only "a couple of minor issues." At a hearing led by the MMS and the Coast Guard in Kenner, La., a Coast Guard official questioned whether the government had an effective safety net for the manufacturing and installation of blowout preventers. Michael Saucier of the MMS testified the government isn't required to inspect the safety devices before they are installed.
In the weeks after an oil rig exploded and killed 11 men in the Gulf of Mexico, worried environmental groups scoured the water for oil plumes, set up animal triage centers and stretched boom across shorelines. Activists hope their involvement doesn't end there. They contend this may be the catalyst that America's green movement needs to get Americans to pump less gasoline, buy hybrids and downsize their consumer lifestyle.
The explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig illustrates the energy industry's push to drill ever deeper in search of huge oil deposits, despite the mammoth risks and unique challenges associated with exploration in such a hostile environment. The lure of the deep is driven by technological advances that make previously inaccessible oil now reachable, and dwindling supplies at shallower depths due to years of exploration. High energy prices and lucrative government incentives have also made it more financially feasible.
Federal wildlife officials are treating the deaths of six dolphins on the Gulf Coast as oil-related even though other factors may be to blame. Blair Mase of the National Marine Fisheries Service said Tuesday that the carcasses have all been found in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama since May 2. Samples have been sent for testing to see whether oil contributed to the deaths.