Rep. Ed Markey has led the push to re-open the cap and switch to a capture method. His primary motivation, according to Platts, is to determine an accurate flow rate, in order to exact full damage from the British company:
“If the well remains fully shut in until the relief well is completed, we may never have a fully accurate determination of the flow rate from this well,” Markey said in a letter to retired Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen, the national incident commander for the Macondo operation.
Markey said BP has “consistently underestimated the flow rate” from the damaged well, and suggested that the company’s idea of keeping the well shut in — as opposed to hooking up riser lines to collect oil in surface vessels — is a way to “evade billions of dollars in fines.” Under the US Clean Water Act, companies are fined for oil spills on a per-barrel basis, with the penalty reaching $4,300 per barrel, per day, in cases involving “gross negligence.”
BP may be trying to keep the cap closed for the exact same reason.
As for the environment, switching to a siphon means letting the oil flow unimpeded for three days. Keeping the containment cap risks increasing pressure on an already-leaky sea floor. It’s tough decisions — but are politics getting in the way of a solution?
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