Tropical Storm Bonnie Nears Oil Spill, Could Delay Surface Operations by 2 Weeks

noaa storm bonnie gulf 7-23-2010 image

Image: NOAA, public domain.
Update: Tropical Storm Bonnie Goes to Early Grave, Oil Cleanup Resumes
Luckily It's Only a Tropical Storm, Not a Hurricane
Ships around the site of the BP formely-leaking-but-now-capped oil well have been ordered to evacuate because of Bonnie, a tropical storm that is now over the Southern tip of Florida. Bonnie currently has maximum sustained winds of 40 mph and is moving west-northwest at 18 miles an hour, with most projected paths putting it straight in the oil spill area. Read on for more details.
noaa storm bonnie gulf 7-23-2010 image

Image: NOAA, public domain.
With the weather changing, BP has suspended work on a relief well to permanently seal the damaged well. And late Thursday, the federal official overseeing the effort, retired Adm. Thad Allen, ordered ships in the area to go to shore. That could delay operations at the well site for 10 to 14 days. But Allen said there's enough confidence in the well that it will be left capped and closed during the rough weather.

Ships used to skim oil off the surface are likely to have to come ashore as well. Currently, 215 are operating off the coast of Louisiana. (source)

That's the good news: The cap is still on the well, preventing more oil from leaking into the Gulf. But the delay means that if something bad was to happen to the integrity of the well while it is capped, it now has more time to happen. There doesn't seem to be any indication of that yet, and the decision to keep the well capped was made at the recommendation of Energy Secretary Steven Chu, meaning that government and BP scientists are probably pretty confident things will be ok, but it's still an additional risk.

Bonnie is expected to hit the Louisiana coast on Sunday in the early morning.

More on BP Gulf Oil Spill
BP Relief Well 'days from completion', Oil Seepage Traced to Other Well
BP Continues Integrity Test for Extra 24 Hours, Possible Leak Detected [Updated]
BREAKING: Flow of Oil Halted for First Time Since April [Updated x3]
BP's Anti-Leak Equipment was Leaking...
This Can't Be Good: BP Delays Pressure Tests and Stops Drilling Relief Well
BP Says New 'Top Hat' is About 150 Feet From Oil Leak
Could the Russian Mir Submersible Stop the Oil Leak?

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