When expert after expert cautioned that when it comes to the BP spill, we're not out of the woods yet, they meant it. And this latest development clearly signals why: Thad Allen, the incident commander of Gulf operations, wrote a letter to BP regarding concerns that oil may now be seeping out of a new leak some ways away from the recently capped well head. According to Mother Jones, Allen was also concerned with "undetermined anomalies at the well head."
These may be precisely the problems that Bill Nye outlined with BP's deep sea operation to stem the spill -- the immense pressure forcing oil up out of the ground makes capping the well more complicated than just plugging it up and sealing it off. The hope was that when BP closed off the valve of its containment unit, it would withstand that pressure -- but as Nye says, if there were leaks in the piping below the surface, the pressure may simply force oil out elsewhere. And that may be what has happened, though certainly hopefully not.
Thad Allen, the incident commander for the Gulf disaster, sent a letter to BP last night asking for more information about "a seep a distance from the well and undetermined anomalies at the well head."And that's where we are today -- the government has allowed BP to continue with its tests for the time being, though it demanded that the company provide a backup plan to open the choke valve if things go awry.
The letter doesn't offer much in the way of detail about the seep, but the acknowledgment of an additional leak is a bad sign; it could mean that the well is damaged enough that oil is escaping through other avenues. Allen granted BP permission to keep the well closed off for another 24 hours while tests and observation of this new leak continue.
So all things considered, it looks like we're still very much in 'fingers crossed' mode here...