Oil Cap Testing to Continue as Seep Detected

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Government officials said Monday it would allow British Petroleum to continue to keep the cap shut tight for another day on its blown-out oil well in the Gulf of Mexico.
    
The news comes one day after retired Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen, in charge of the response to the Gulf oil spill, announced a seep had been detected near the blown out well.

"When seeps are detected, you are directed to marshal resources, quickly investigate, and report findings to the government in no more than four hours," Allen said in a letter to BP Managing Director Bob Dudley.

"I direct you to provide me a written procedure for opening the choke valve as quickly as possible without damaging the well should hydrocarbon seepage near the well head be confirmed," he said.
    
An Obama administration official has also said methane could be leaking from the device, one reason why the government wants to reopen the cap and siphon oil to the surface.

So far, that cap has continued to keep the oil under control deep at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico.
    
Although BP officials seem content to leave matters as they are, the government has been pressuring the oil giant into opening the cap to relieve pressure and let the oil be piped up to surface ships. Such a move would also allow the oil flow be measured accurately.

"Once and for all they can actually get a good number on what that flow rate was," said Dr. Don van Nieuwenhuise, a geoscientist with the University of Houston.

Meanwhile, citizens and leaders alike in the Gulf states are just hoping the spill might be over once and for all.

"Hopefully this will really be turning the corner," Sen. David Vitter, R-La., said. "Even if it is, we still have major challenges.  Specifically two --  protecting our marshes and coasts and dealing with the economic disaster, including the drilling moratorium." 

"We're hoping to get back to just normality," said Tyler Hipsley of Frenchy's Rockaway Grill. "Everybody's getting back into that vacation mindset." 

"It took Alaska five years to return to the tourism levels pre-Valdez," said David Downing of Pinellas County Tourism. "It's going to take Florida a long time to recover.  And that was a much smaller, much more confined spill."

In Louisiana, residents are getting back to the usual enthusiastic embrace of local seafood -- like the oysters.

"They're the best," seafood fan Charlotte Babin said. "I don't think they have them like anywhere else, but here."

Restaurants owners noted that with so many local and federal agencies are inspecting the area's food, it couldn't be any safer.

"Our seafood is tested so often right now, that we probably have the safest seafood on the planet, because we know exactly what we're serving," said Brian Landry of Gallatoire's Restaurant.

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