Gulf cleanup will take years

Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen has
warned that it will take years to completely clean up the damage from the Gulf
of Mexico oil spill disaster.

“Dealing with the oil spill on
the surface is going to go on for a couple of months. After that it’ll be taken
care of,” Allen said in response to a reporter’s question at a White House
briefing. “I agree with you, long-term issues of restoring the environment
and the habitats and stuff will be years.”

The total amount of crude being
collected from the ruptured undersea well responsible for the disaster
increased to roughly 466,000 gallons — or 11,100 barrels — according to estimates
from BP and Allen.

BP indicated it had increased the
amount of crude being funnelled to the surface to roughly 441,000 gallons. The
oil is being funnelled from a containment cap installed on the well to a
drilling ship on the ocean surface.

Federal authorities estimate that
798,000 gallons of crude have been gushing into the sea every day.

Since the containment cap was
installed on Friday, the total number of gallons of oil being captured on a
daily basis has nearly doubled, Allen said.

BP “anticipates moving another
craft” to the well site shortly in order to raise the capacity of oil that
could be captured on a daily basis to roughly 840,000 gallons, or 20,000
barrels, he said.

In the long run, [BP] is also
looking at bringing larger production vessels in, create a more permanent
connection that can be disconnected easily in case we have a hurricane or bad
weather later on in the hurricane season,” Allen noted. “And we’ll
continue to optimize the production out of the well to contain it.”

Allen said that roughly 120 linear
miles of coastline in the Gulf have now been affected by the spill.

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A pelican coated in heavy oil wallows in the surf, on East Grand Terre Island, Louisiana.
Photo: CNN