In Trying To Cover It's Own Behind, BP Has Lowballed the Amount of Oil ... Which Has Made Everything Worse

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The head of the government's flow study group - Ira Leifer - told
Dan Froomkin:

 

The lack of accurate information
has taken its toll, he said. If BP had properly understood what was
going on 5,000 feet below the surface, it never would have attempted to
stop it with a "top hat". And had they realized the pressure from the
oil reserves was beyond the threshold for "top kill" they wouldn't have
wasted time on that, either. [While BP and the government originally
estimated the leak at 1,000
barrels a day, Leifer said
that it may be spilling as much as 100,000
barrels a day.]

"We could have effective containment
systems available now, if we'd had the measurements," he said.

This
is unfortunate. Not only did top hat and top kill waste months of time in which BP could have
taken effective steps to contain the oil, but top kill probably
made the oil spill worse
:

BP's most recent efforts to stop the flow of oil
have only made the situation worse, says Leifer. The engineers' attempt
to seal off the well from above, using a method known as "top kill,"
failed and only enlarged the borehole, according to Leifer. Now, he
adds, there is almost nothing stopping the oil from flowing out of the
well.

Moreover, Leifer previously told
the Associated Press that the lack of certainty as to the flow rate
will make it more difficult to successfully drill relief wells:

Many unknowns about the flow rate and
pressure and quantity of oil
coming from the well make it difficult to "design and engineer
safe oil recovery systems, such as the 'cap,' nor design and engineer
ultimate solutions safely such as the relief
wells
."

This is important, as the stakes
are high
:

Independent experts warn that relief wells, like any
well, are not without risk. "More oil could leak than before,
because the field is being drilled into again," says Fred Aminzadeh, a
geophysicist at the University of Southern California. Ira Leifer, a
geochemist at the University of California in Santa Barbara, voices
similar concerns: "In the worst case, we would suddenly be dealing with
two spills, and we'd have twice the problem."

While
BP is pretending that it is difficult to determine the amount and
pressure of oil flowing out of the gusher, this
is not true
. Indeed, BP is actively blocking
Leifer and other scientists from making the measurements.

Similarly, telling cleanup workers they'll
be fired if they use respirators
is increasing the toll on human
health, and using dispersants to hide the amount of spilled oil is only
worsening
the long-term damage to marine life.