I can't tell you how many times my chainsaw stuck on a tree trunk during my years as a landscape contractor. Unlike BP's experience of deja vu failure again Wednesday morning, my stuck chainsaw cost me time and money I could least afford. And my toils were at ground level or on a ladder.
Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, the government's mouthpiece in charge of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, announced from Port Fourchon, La., BP engineers hoped to free the saw and resume cutting later in the day. Commanding robots 5,000 feet below the Gulf surface has been a daunting experience .
If the cut and cap effort succeeds, some of the estimated 12,000 to 19,000 barrels per day of gas and Louisiana crude will be diverted to waiting container vessels. If it fails as has all other efforts to plug the hole since April 20, Allen said the amount of spill will increase by 20%.
Meanwhile, two relief wells are being drilled to reach the ruptured pipe about 10,000 feet into the earth's crust for a capping effort engineers say they know will work. It is a race against time since this process will reach into August at the height of the hurricane system when all operations will come to a screeching halt when any of the tropical storms or hurricanes pass through.
"I don't think the issue is whether or not we can make the second cut. It's about how fine we can make it, how smooth we can make it," Allen said.
While engineers diddled, the oil spill has now reached the shores of the Florida Panhandle white sandy beaches and BP's stock -- both financial and in terms of consumer frustration -- has plunged by 75 billion in dollars and to zero in confidence it knows what the heck it is doing.
Forecasts said winds from the south and west were pushing the oil slick to the beaches at a faster clip.
Florida emergency crews began scouring the beaches for oil and shoring up miles of boom. County officials in the Panhandle will use it to block oil from reaching inland waterways but plan to leave beaches unprotected because they are too difficult to protect and easier to clean up.
Crude mixed with toxic chemical dispersents has already been reported along barrier islands in Alabama and Mississippi. It has polluted some 125 miles of Louisiana coastline and closed one-third of federal waters and hundreds of square miles of state waters to fishing.
BP so far has said it has cut $35 million worth of checks to fishermen and businesses already affected by the oil slick.
"I call that 'Shut your mouth money,'" said Murray Volk, 46, of Empire, who's been fishing for nearly 30 years. The first $5,000 check to him "won't pay the insurance on my boat and house. They say there'll be more later, but do you think the electric company will wait for that?"
I may stand accused of being an alarmist but at the rate this oil spill is creating havoc on the economic and ecological system along the Gulf Coast, the Gulf of Mexico is fast approaching that dreaded designation as ...
... The Dead Sea.