Noted environmental attorney Stuart H. Smith of Smith Stag Law Firm, New Orleans, Louisiana has been concerned since the beginning of the DEEPWATER HORIZON well leak about a catastrophic failure in the well control system. He released the following statement:
“We have been advised through a confidential reliable source, as yet unconfirmed by BP or a second source, that the cofferdam operation, which British Petroleum hoped to seal the DEEPHORIZON well, has failed. Presumably, BP and government officials will address this at the 2 p.m. CST press conference called to discuss status of Cofferdam operations.
“It is our understanding BP may proceed with a “TOP-KILL” to the well, as its next attempt, from the Gulf surface. This involves pumping rubber trash down the pipe and then cementing to try to get a new well plug. This is a very dangerous operation because if it fails, there will be nothing to impede flow of oil from the well, which BP has admitted could reach 60,000 barrels a day.
“Many experts believe, and we concur, that we are one tiny step away from true catastrophe. A catastrophic failure means an even worse rate of leakage than now reported or admitted by British Petroleum. We may see the equivalent of a Valdez-type leak every five to six days now in the Gulf.
“At that rate of release, there could easily be a significant threat not only to the environment but to public health for those downwind of the oil slick. Air discharges of components of oil, such as benzene a known human carcinogen, and other volatile organic compounds could be significant.
“It is imperative that BP and the federal government immediately release to the public all information that they have as a result of modeling a worst case scenario. No one seems to be talking about the possibility of such a catastrophic failure and the effect on human health and the environment.”