WASHINGTON D.C. - A week-long tug-of-war between U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson and BP over access to video of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill ended today with the Florida Democrat posting a live video feed from the floor of the Gulf of Mexico. At the same time, the oil company conceded for the first time that more oil than previously estimated is gushing into the Gulf.
Nelson also posted on his Senate Website never-before-seen archival video labeled “dispertion opps” showing tens of thousands of gallons of opaque liquid being injected into a massive gusher in a broken pipe attached to the blowout preventer. This video comes just as the Environmental Protection Agency informed BP officials that the company has 24 hours to choose a less toxic form of chemicals to break up its oil spill in the Gulf.
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“The broader scientific community and our university experts need to see all this so they can add to our knowledge of what happened and why,” Nelson said today. “Plus, we need to make sure everybody sees what’s going on down there.”
Nelson began pressing BP for release of video last week, shortly after the oil company made public a snippet of the leak. That brief footage quickly led a number of scientists to conclude the oil spill was much worse than had been thought.
BP responded by releasing four more short video clips, each showing oil pouring from the end of a broken pipe. Nelson and Sen. Barbara Boxer, of California, then pressed for any other video from the company – some of which arrived at the Capitol on two external drives late last night. The hard drives contain several hundred hours of video, dated between April 22 and May 2. In a letter that accompanied the video BP said more footage still was to come.
Nelson said he would make all the video on the hard drives available to the public including government investigators, members of the Senate Commerce Committee and any scientists and experts.
Besides the video eceived today, Nelson obtained a link to a live feed from the ocean floor and made it available to the public on his Website: www.billnelson.senate.gov.
The Deepwater Horizon rig exploded and burned on April 20, before sinking to the Gulf floor some 5,000 feet below.
On Thursday it was reported that the EPA decided BP must apply the new form of dispersants within 72 hours of submitting the list of alternatives. The move is significant, because it suggests federal officials are now concerned that the unprecedented use of chemical dispersants could pose a significant threat to the Gulf 's marine life.
BP has been using two forms of dispersants, Corexit 9500A and Corexit 9527A, and so far has applied 600,000 gallons on the surface and 55,000 underwater.
"Dispersants have never been used in this volume before," said an administration official who spoke to a reporter on condition of anonymity, because the decision hadn't been formally announced. "This is a large amount of dispersants being used, larger amounts than have ever been used, on a pipe that continues to leak oil and that BP is still trying to cap."
The new policy applies to both surface and undersea application, according to sources, and comes as EPA has just posted BP's own results from monitoring the effect underwater application of chemical dispersants has had in terms of toxicity, dissolved oxygen and effectiveness.
The feed is also available at GlobalWarming.house.gov, though as of 2:15 p.m. EST Thursday, the site was experiencing sporadic technical difficulties due to the high volume of traffic.