Rough weather curtails some Gulf cleanup work
NEW ORLEANS (KABC) -- Rough weather is slowing down oil spill cleanup efforts in the Gulf of Mexico even after the passing of Hurricane Alex.
The U.S. Coast Guard said that many offshore oil skimmers are still idle in Alabama, Florida and Mississippi.
Crews are still skimming oil in Louisiana, but workers there can't burn oil corralled by the skimmers.
According to the Coast Guard, crews are spending much of Sunday checking containment booms for damage caused by Alex last week.
The hurricane missed the oil spill area by hundreds of miles, but Alex still managed to kick up enough bad weather to halt cleanup work. It also pushed oil closer to shore and mangled the containment booms.
- Saturday, crews tested a new giant skimmer purported to be largest of its kind in the world. Dubbed "A Whale" by its Taiwanese creators, the skimmer is 10 stories high and stretches out to 3 1/2 football fields. The skimmer's makers claim it can process 21 million gallons of oily water daily.
- Researchers fear that the sinking oil is caking the Gulf of Mexico's barnacled history of pirates, sea battles and World War II shipwrecks. Within 20 miles of the well, there are several significant shipwrecks - ironically, discovered by oil companies' underwater robots working the depths - and oil is most likely beginning to cascade on them. Archaeologists say sites on the shore are also at risk from crews building barriers and dragging to clean oil.
- A New Orleans federal judge is trying to streamline the legal process for more than 30 lawsuits arising from the Gulf oil spill. An order filed this week from U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier temporarily consolidates the lawsuits for pretrial purposes. The suits represent only a fraction of the more than 200 lawsuits filed in courts in Louisiana, Texas and elsewhere since the BP rig exploded and sank.
- Churches and other nonprofit organizations are among those filing damage claims with BP for the Gulf oil spill crisis. The nonprofits say they have been hurt because parishioners and other donors aren't able to give as much money because of the impact of the spill on the Gulf's economy. But the British oil giant says it isn't yet sure how it will handle those claims.
AP contributed to this report.
british petroleum, gulf coast, environment, storm, national news
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