UPDATE: Oil spill pouring more than 4 million gallons of crude - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

UPDATE: Ruptured well pouring more than 4 million gallons of crude into sea

WASHINGTON DC (WKOW)-- It now appears that a key safety device failed before the explosion on an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico last month. 

In a second day of congressional hearings into the explosion and subsequent oil spill, BP released video of oil and natural gas that's gushing from a broken pipe a mile underwater.

Congressional investigators say a "blow out preventer" failed, leading to the explosion.

That led members of congress to criticize the response of the three companies involved.


ON THE GULF OF MEXICO (AP) -- BP says a second, smaller container has reached the sea floor, but it hasn't yet been placed over the blown-out well fouling the Gulf of Mexico.

BP spokesman Bill Salvin said Wednesday that the 2-ton box had reached the seabed overnight.

He says it hasn't been positioned over the well yet because engineers want to make sure everything is hooked up correctly. Officials want to avoid the same icy, slushy buildup that thwarted their first attempt at using a much larger box that weighed about 100 tons.

This box will be connected to a ship on the surface by a pipe-within-a-pipe when it's lowered. Crews plan to pump in heated water and methanol so ice won't build up.

Salvin says undersea robots will position the box over the gusher by Thursday.


ON THE GULF OF MEXICO (WKOW) -- BP says a second, smaller container has reached Gulf sea floor, placed away from oil gusher for now.

A BP spokesman says engineers want to make sure everything is configured correctly to avoid the slushy buildup that clogged the opening in the first box. The idea is to funnel the oil into a tanker on the surface as relief wells are drilled.

The latest box weighs just 2 tons, compared with the 100 ton box they first tried. Crews plan to pump in heated water and methanol to keep it from icing up.

Meanwhile, political patience with BP's efforts to cap the gusher is growing short. At the White House, spokesman Robert Gibbs says as more oil fouls the Gulf, President Barack Obama is "frustrated with everything" and everybody.

Despite statements from Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano that there's some hope the leak might be slowing, a BP spokesman says scientists have noticed no significant change.


WASHINGTON (AP) -- It's not our fault.

The message is coming at a Senate hearing today from three companies that did work on a rig where an explosion left millions of gallons of oil pouring into the Gulf of Mexico.

The oil company BP told senators that the spill was caused by the failure of a safety device made by another firm, Transocean. And BP points out that of the 126 workers on the rig at the time of the explosion, just seven were BP employees.

But Transocean says BP was in charge, and that it was BP that prepared the drilling plan. And Transocean also says a third company that poured concrete didn't do it right.

The third company -- Halliburton -- says it was just following BP's plan.

The chairman of the Senate panel says failures that led to the massive Gulf oil spill need to be closely examined so new safety measures can be imposed.


WASHINGTON (WKOW) -- Lawmakers get a chance today to question executives of the three companies involved in the massive oil spill threatening the Gulf Coast.

It's their first public opportunity to ask what went wrong.

Meanwhile, BP is still trying to come up with a fix.

Helicopters dropped sand bags in Port Fourchon, Louisiana Monday to try to keep the oil from grass and marshlands.

BP will also try to fit a smaller containment dome later this week, after a larger dome failed.

BP may also try to plug the leak with pieces of rubber.

BP's CEO says the accident was caused by a failure of its cementing, casing or perhaps both.

Transocean Ltd. CEO Steven Newman said at a Senate hearing Tuesday that the April 20 explosion of the Deepwater Horizon rig was unusual because it happened after construction of the well was essentially complete.

He said that the explosion that killed 11 workers could not have happened unless the cement, well casing -- or both of those elements -- failed. The rig sank and has been gushing oil into the Gulf.

Newman dismissed suggestions that a blowout preventer owned by Transocean may have been a cause.


WASHINGTON (AP) -- Federal regulators say the unchecked Gulf of Mexico oil spill is making them reexamine if the last-resort cutoff valves on wells are reliable enough.

Deputy Director Walter Cruickshank of the Minerals Management Service said during an Associated Press interview Friday that his agency had been comfortable that the huge blowout preventers worked well -- until now.

He said the incident is going to make the agency reexamine that assumption.

The massive valves weighing up to 640,000 pounds are designed to stem blowouts on exploratory wells. However, they didn't stop the Deepwater Horizon gusher that is fouling the Gulf. Regulators want to know why.


PORT FOURCHON, La. (WKOW) -- Recent satellite images show oil from the spill in the Gulf of Mexico is extending west around the Mississippi Delta.

The oil is in streaks ranging from a few feet wide to much larger swaths.

University of Miami imaging expert Hans Graber said Friday the main oil slick has been shifting to the northwest, encroaching on Chandeleur Sound, which lies between the Chandeleur Islands and Mississippi Delta wetlands.

Much of the oil west of the Mississippi River is miles out, but there appears to be little effort to contain it or clean it up. BP and the Coast Guard have acknowledge they're concerned about the area.


NEW ORLEANS (WKOW) -- A mission to the bottom of the sea to try to avert a wider environmental disaster improved early this morning as crews said a 100-ton concrete and steal box was close to being placed over a blown-out well on the Gulf floor in a unprecedented attempt to capture gushing oil.

Douglas Peake, the first mate of the supply boat that brought the box to the site confirmed a radio transmission from the nearby vessel lowering the device that said the device would be in position over the well soon.

27 News Continuing Coverage:

Authorities plan to burn thickest oil following oil rig explosion (April 28, 2010)

Coast Guard: new oil leak found in Gulf of Mexico (April 28, 2010)

No shoreline impact from oil leak in Gulf of Mexico for 3 days (April 26, 2010)

UPDATE: Coast Guard likely to call off search for missing workers (April 23, 2010)

Oil platform that suffered explosion sinks (April 22, 2010)

UPDATE: Company officials: no sign of trouble before oil drilling explosion (April 21, 2010)

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