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The Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming addressed our nation's energy, economic and national security challenges during the 110th and 111th Congresses.

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Markey to BP: Allow Scientists to Directly Measure Spill

Measurement Could Be Conducted When New Cap is Installed, Yet BP Stonewalling Scientists

June 10, 2010 – Within a few weeks, an important opportunity could present itself for scientists to directly analyze the BP oil spill site at the sea floor to better estimate the size of the flow. Scientists from the Flow Rate Technical Group have expressed to BP their desire to conduct such a measurement when a new containment cap is placed on the well, but have been met with silence from the company. Responding to this potential opportunity, Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) today pressed BP to allow these scientists to conduct this measurement when the cap-swap occurs.

“This measurement could help inform the ongoing effort to end the spill, which is the number one priority,” wrote Rep. Markey, who chairs the Energy and Environment Subcommittee in the Energy and Commerce Committee and the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming. “There are concerns that, without the best information on the size and force of this gusher, that the effectiveness of the new containment cap and relief wells could be compromised.”

The letter to BP America CEO Lamar McKay can be found HERE.

BP has said recently that they will in a few weeks be switching out the current containment cap for an updated version that will be able to siphon off more oil. When the first cap is removed, and before the replacement cap is installed, the full flow of the out-of-control oil well could be measured directly.

The measurement technique, which was introduced to Rep. Markey by Dr. Ira Leifer of the Marine Sciences Institute at the University of California-Santa Barbara, would consist of injecting fluorescent dye into the flow of oil as it leaves the riser pipe during that time period. Flow rate scientists could then use their peer-reviewed methods to gauge the speed and size of the gusher of oil leaving the pipe, finally giving what would be the best estimation yet as to the size of the flow.

Dr. Leifer has indicated that other members of the flow rate team would also appreciate direct access to measure the flow, and that they do not in any way desire to interfere with the primary goal: to capture as much oil as possible and cap the well. The measurement would take only a couple of hours, and monitoring equipment could be left at the site to continue to measure the oil flow. Dr. Leifer said the equipment and team could be in place within a week, before the cap-swap is expected to occur.

Dr. Leifer told staff to Rep. Markey that BP has yet to respond to their requests for direct measurements of the oil gusher during this critical moment. 


PLEASE NOTE: The House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming was created to explore American clean energy solutions that end our reliance on foreign oil and reduce carbon pollution.

The Select Committee was active during the 110th and 111th Congresses. This is an archived version of the website, to ensure that the public has ongoing access to the Select Committee record. This website, including external links, will not be updated after Jan. 3rd, 2010.

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