Maine experts waiting as BP begins new effort to stop Gulf oil leak

Posted May 26, 2010, at 10:36 a.m.


Streaming video provided by BP.com

PORTLAND, Maine — As BP on Wednesday launched its latest bid to plug the gushing well in the Gulf of Mexico, experts from the state of Maine skilled in cleaning up oil spills say they’d like to help clean up the oil fouling the Gulf of Mexico.

But Barbara Parker of the Maine Department of Environmental Protection says no one can go until they’re invited.

The state of Maine has more than two miles of absorbent boom ready to go, oil skimming barges and a team of trained responders.

Parker says the state offered help last month shortly after an offshore oil rig exploded off Louisiana pumping oil into the ocean, but can’t go until invited by the governor of one of the affected states.

She tells the Portland Press Herald they’re stunned they haven’t been asked.

But some private contractors from Maine are working in the gulf.

BP’s latest effort involves force-feeding the hole with heavy drilling mud, a maneuver known as a “top kill” that has never been tried 5,000 feet underwater. A chief executive earlier gave the procedure a 60 to 70 percent chance of working and President Barack Obama cautioned Wednesday there were “no guarantees.”

BP spokesman Steve Rinehart said the company will pump mud for hours and officials have indicated it may be a couple of days before they know whether the procedure is working. The top kill involves pumping enough mud into the gusher to overcome the flow of the well, and engineers plan to follow it up with cement to try to permanently seal the well.

BP PLC was leasing the rig Deepwater Horizon when it exploded April 20, killing 11 workers and triggering the spill that has so far spewed at least 7 million gallons into the Gulf. Oil has begun coating birds and washing into Louisiana’s delicate wetlands.

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