Cleanup to resume at US oil spill

July 25th, 2010 - 7:28 am ICT by IANS  

Washington, July 25 (DPA) Ships will be able to return to the Gulf of Mexico within hours to continue siphoning oil from the BP Plc spill, a spokesman for cleanup coordinators said Saturday.
The deicision came as an approaching storm continued to weaken, before it dissipated altogether later in the day.

“Tropical depression Bonnie is much weaker than expected,” he told DPA.

By early Saturday evening, the former tropical storm had become “a disorganised area of low pressure” and all coastal storm watches and warnings had been called off, the National Hurricane Centre in Miami said.

Almost all ships and platforms had left the spill area Friday as the storm known as Bonnie neared, with only two vessels staying behind to monitor the well.

Bonnie, which was expected to reach the US coast between the states of Louisiana and Alabama Saturday night, now has sustained winds of only 45 km per hour, the National Hurricane Center said.

The spill continued to make headlines Saturday, with the New York Times newspaper reporting that the emergency alarm on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig was not fully activated the day it exploded in April, setting off the environmental catastrophe.

“They did not want people woke up at 3 am from false alarms,” the rig’s chief electronics technician, Mike Williams, Friday told a government panel investigating the explosion, the paper said.

Williams survived the ensuing fire and sinking of the rig by jumping into the water. Eleven other people died.

The alarm did not sound during the emergency, leaving workers to relay information through loudspeakers to the 126 people on the oil rig, the paper said.

It quoted Williams as saying that the lack of a fully functioning alarm hampered the effort to safely evacuate the rig.

BP also said it will start deep-water drilling off the coast of Libya within weeks.

“Drilling will begin in the next few weeks,” spokesman David Nicholas told DPA, confirming a report in the Financial Times.

The move comes despite concerns about BP’s safety and environmental record, following the spill in the Gulf of Mexico after an oil rig that had been drilling a well for BP exploded in April.

BP purchased the rights to explore for oil in Libya’s Gulf of Sirte three years ago.

US authorities have accused BP of lobbying for the release of the Lockerbie bomber so it could begin drilling off Libya and the Senate is set to hold hearings on the matter Thursday.

The bomber, Abdel Basset al-Megrahi, was set free last year from a prison in Scotland and returned to his native Libya.

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