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Wednesday, April 7, 2010 as of 11:14 AM ET

Natural Disaster

Lee Ross

Supreme Court

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Allen: At Least 90 Days to Stop Oil Spill

May 3, 2010 - 11:07 AM | by: Lee Ross

It will take at least three months to effectively stop the flow of oil rushing through a damaged well that is leaking oil into the Gulf of Mexico, Admiral Thad Allen, Commandant of the United States Coast Guard, and now National Incident Commander of the Gulf Coast oil spill said Monday morning.

The spill started last month when the rig attached to the oil well exploded and continues to spew thousands of barrels of oil into the Gulf and threatens the sensitive Louisiana coastline and shipping channels.

Allen says the three-month window is the best case scenario for drilling a new well into the reservoir of oil that’s 23,000 feet below the water’s surface. He says that is the only way to stop the flow of oil at the source.

In the meantime, Allen spoke approvingly of various ongoing efforts to contain the spill. These include the use of chemical dispersants on the surface and under water to help degrade the oil. He said it will take another week to build cofferdams around the spill.

At the moment Allen says the slick of oil remains nine miles off the Louisiana coastline. He attributes this stationary position to an eddy flow from the mouth of the Mississippi River. He also says shipping channels or “fairways” remain open but the situation remains tenuous.

“Some things are inartful,” was Allen’s brusque assessment of how the emergency developed. He was clearly irritated by criticism directed to the response and claims that officials were slow to recognize the extent of the problem.

Allen said the collapse of the underwater well system that followed the initial explosion is the cause of the current problem. Underwater cameras were used to help understand the spill and that over time three leaks were discovered. “That’s the way the situation unfolded,” he said.

He also defended the work of the Defense Department and wanted to “debunk” any suggestion that the Pentagon was less than responsive in helping with the disaster.

“The Joint Chiefs have been totally responsive,” Allen said before adding, “there is nothing inhibiting our ability to ask for resources we need.”

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