Oil may now be leaking through seabed floor, blogger says; Memo shows how BP calculates value of human life

Update (at bottom): BP caves to Rep's demand, will maintain live video feed for 'top kill' attempt

The chairman of the House subcommittee on energy and the environment says that BP will cut off its live, underwater video feed of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill during its latest attempt to plug the leak.

"After pushing BP into providing a live feed of the spill at the bottom of the ocean, Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-MA) today learned that BP will terminate the live feed during BP’s pivotal attempt to seal the well this week," a statement on Markey's congressional Web site said.

"BP informed Rep. Markey’s office that the live feed would be terminated some time early Wednesday morning, and would continue to be offline until after the attempt at the so-called 'top kill' is completed," the statement continued.

The news that the live feed will be cut off has alarmed some environmentalists and bloggers, who have been using the footage to make their own assessments of the oil spill, independently of BP's own reports.

For example, on Sunday blogger Monkeyfister reported what he said was a major deterioration of the situation. The blogger said the live footage showed that oil and gas from the spill was now leaking not only through the broken well at the bottom of the sea, but through the seabed floor itself as well.

BP's next attempt at sealing the leak, which was scheduled to take place Wednesday morning but appears to have been delayed, is called the "top kill" procedure and involves using a fleet of robotic submarines to plug the leak with 50,000 pounds of mud. The Washington Post describes it as "the most critical moment of the oil spill crisis."

“It is outrageous that BP would kill the video feed for the top kill," Markey said in his statement. "This BP blackout will obscure a vital moment in this disaster."

The live video feed can be found here.


A series of 2002 memos from BP, obtained by the Daily Beast, shows the company used the classic fairy tale "The Three Little Pigs" as an allegory to determine how much risk the company is willing to put its workers into in order to save on costly safety precautions.

The memos show "the company took deadly risks to save money by opting to build cheaper facilities for workers," Rick Outzen reports. "The company estimated the value of a worker's life at $10 million."

Eleven oil rig workers died at BP's Deepwater Horizon platform on April 20, when an explosion caused the leak now threatening the US Gulf Coast and Florida.

In its "little pigs" model, BP rejects the idea of building a "blast resistant" house for the pigs, determining instead that a cheaper "brick house" will protect the pigs against the big bad wolf.

A BP spokesman said the company had "fundamentally changed [its] culture" after a 2005 fire at its Texas City refinery, which killed 15 workers, and the "three pigs" risk model no longer applies.

Update: BP caves to Rep's demand, will maintain live video feed for 'top kill' attempt

Bending to congressional pressure, BP has agreed to keep it's live video feed of the Gulf oil gusher running through the company's so-called "top kill" effort to plug the well.

"BP made the right decision to allow the public to see this potentially historical event for themselves," Rep. Markey said in a media advisory. "The hopes of millions of Americans rest on this effort, and the world deserves a first-hand view of the top kill attempt. BP should now take the next step and make the full 12 possible video feeds available to the public, not just one single feed."

The oil giant plans to inject drilling mud and cement into the gusher from several angels on Wednesday, in hopes that it will stop the rushing torrent of pollution.

BP CEO Tony Hayward told reporters on Monday the effort had a 60-70 percent chance of success, though some experts have mocked the effort as mere PR glitz.

Doug Suttles, the company's COO, said that if the top kill fails, relief wells are being drilled to divert the flow and allow the leaking well to be sealed, but these will not be ready until August at the earliest.

Carol Browner, the top White House advisor on energy and environmental matters, said Tuesday it was the worst spill in US history.

Other contingency plans to plug the gusher are expected to take months, meaning if the 'top kill' plan fails, tens of millions more barrels of oil will be released into the Gulf.

This video is from CNN's Newsroom, broadcast May 25, 2010.

Watch this video on iPhone/iPad

Stephen C. Webster contributed to this report.

With AFP.