BP is building metal and concrete boxes to contain the massive amount of oil flowing out of a blown-out well in the Gulf of Mexico in a dire situation U.S. President Barack Obama described as a "potentially unprecedented environmental disaster." The company is constructing 74-ton boxes that will be lowered over the underwater volcano, of sorts, to capture the oil and deliver it to a barge on the surface. It could take another week for BP to put that plan in place. If that strategy doesn't work, the company has only one other backup plan that involves drilling two relief wells. That could take three months.
There are reportedly tens of millions of barrels of oil beneath the seabed where the Deepwater Horizon rig is located. Meanwhile, thousands of liters of crude continue to leak out, adding to an already massive oil slick that threatens marine life, including sea turtles, dolphins and microscopic plankton and other tiny creatures that are a key component of the food chain and fragile ecosystem.
An already grave situation could worsen if the oil infiltrates the Gulf Stream and hits Florida and potentially wraps around that state's southern shore and turns up along the Eastern Seaboard. This environmental disaster, in which Obama has laid all blame on BP, could also put fisheries out of business. The season was about to kick into high gear when 6,800 square miles of federal fishing areas stretching from the mouth of the Mississippi River to the Florida Panhandle were shut down. It's estimated the broken well has been spewing out more than 5,000 barrels worth of oil every day since the rig exploded on April 20, killing 11 people.
A state of emergency has been declared in six Florida counties. Louisiana also declared a state of emergency. BP says it's putting all of its available resources into fixing this problem, but engineers' efforts have so far been ineffective. A piece of equipment that should have stopped the leak after the explosion failed for an unknown reason and attempts to activate it remotely have also failed.