BP cuts pipe, plans to lower cap over Gulf spill

Oil Cleanup

You won’t be hearing Sarah Palin yell “drill, baby, drill,” or suggest that government get out of the way of big business any time soon.

When big business runs wild, it runs over us.

By William Branigin

Crews working to cap a gushing oil well deep in the Gulf of Mexico used giant shears operated by a robotic submarine to cut a damaged pipe, a senior Coast Guard official said Thursday.

Adm. Thad W. Allen told reporters that the shears succeeded in making “an irregular cut” through the pipe. But the cut, more jagged than originally planned, now makes it “a bit more challenging” to put a seal and a containment cap on top.

He said a containment cap is already in position to be lowered over the leak and that crews of the oil giant BP, which owns the well, will be working over the coming hours to fit a rubber seal around the pipe and place the cap for the best possible fit.

But Allen said there is a possibility that oil could leak from the seal because of the irregular cut. In that case, he said, “we will have the option to use undersea dispersants” to deal with any leaking oil.

The shears were used after an effort with a finer “diamond-wire” saw failed Wednesday. Allen said the diamond saw apparently became stuck when it encountered a drill pipe inside the riser pipe leading from the gushing well.

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