Only the latest hiccup in the efforts to contain and cleanup the seemingly never-ending gush of crude oil now covering the surface of the Gulf of Mexico and many of its beaches, the removal and replacement of the containment cap on June 23 snapped eyeballs back to the live underwater video feeds of the BP oil spill saga. The containment cap was wrangling about 29,000 gallons of oil an hour since it's installation in early June 2010. It was one of the only efforts that seemed to be working at controlling the leak since the oil rig Deepwater Horizon exploded and sank April 20, killing 11 rig workers and sending a seemingly unstoppable plume of orange and black oil to the surface of water. After numerous failed attempts to stop the flow of oil from the well 5,000 feet below the surface--including robots, golf balls, giant domes, a "top kill," "top hats," and diamond saws--BP seemed to be capturing the "majority" of the leaking oil, until an underwater robot bumped into a vent on the cap on June 23. BP removed the cap for the remainder of the day until the repairs could be made. It was reinstalled later that evening. But in the meantime large orange plumes again gushed from the sea floor. Watching BP's many failed efforts hasn't been the only frustrating video to emerge from the crisis; here are some of the most fascinating and maddening video clips of the last months.
When a BP employee phoned the Louisiana hazardous-materials hotline about 16 hours after the rig exploded, he spoke in a calm tone, telling the operator he wanted to give him a "heads up" about the oil slick floating off the Louisiana coast. This call, seemingly downplaying the leak, could earn a nomination for the biggest understatement of the decade.
A South Florida troupe of singing grandmothers protests against BP with a song set to the tune of "Battle Hymn of the Republic." And they're not holding back at all. Sample lyric: "Take your friggin' drillin' rigs, 'cause we don't want your oil! Halliburton and BP: you suck!"
In this clip from Louisiana Wildlife & Fisheries, Michelle Kelley, a marine mammal and sea turtle rescuer, explains step by step the delicate process of cleaning sea turtles after a massive oil spill. Guess what? They really do use Dawn.
BP CEO Tony Hayward has had more than his fair share of gaffes since the rig exploded. But this one might be the most infuriating. Among all the reasons Hayward could choose to say why he'd like to stop the leak, this one is certainly the most selfish: "There's no one who wants this thing over more than I do," Hayward told reporters on May 30. "I'd like my life back." Hayward later apologized for the remark.
NASA satellites have been able to capture photos of the spill as it spreads. This time-lapse video is a haunting document of the vast size and speed of the still-growing oil slick.
In this short amateur video, after sneaking past the Coast Guard on a Louisiana beach, YouTube user JDarTulane finds piles of dead fish washed in by the tide. Photojournalists have claimed that BP and government officials are preventing them from photographing beaches affected by the oil spill.
In this terrifying animation done by the National Center for Atmospheric Research, the projected path of the oil slick could extend as far north as New York City and then head east across the Atlantic. This is certainly one of worst-case scenarios, but the simulation does indicate what could happen if the oil continues to flow and gets into the Loop Current.
Otis Goodson, of Florida-based CW Roberts Contracting, offered a persuasive demonstration of how hay can be used to remove oil from the gulf's surface. After just a few seconds of sitting on a homemade oil slick, the hay is removed, revealing seemingly crystal-clear water.
This heartbreaking clip shows marine life—dead and alive—soaked in sludge on day 45 of the oil-spill disaster near Grand Terre, La. The brown pelican, one of the many bird species affected by the spill, is the state bird of Louisiana.
Things got tense in May during a congressional hearing about the spill when top executives from the three companies involved in the building and operation of the Deepwater Horizon—BP, Halliburton, and Transocean—blamed each other for the explosion and sinking of the rig. In this clip, Sen. John Barrasso, a Wyoming Republican, calls out the bosses on their cattiness: "I hear one message, and the message is, 'Don't blame me.' "
This CBS news report tells the sad story of 55-year-old Alabama charter fishing captain William Allen Kruse, who was found dead on the morning of June 23, of an apparent suicide. People who knew him said he was distraught over the spill, which put him - and most of the Gulf Cost fishing industry - out of work. He had recently begun work for BP cleanup and containment efforts.
For nearly a full day on June 23, crude oil was again gushing at an alarming rate. An underwater robot bumped into a vent near the containment cap that had been wrangling about 29,000 gallons of oil an hour since June 3. This forced BP to remove the cap for about 11 hours. Our eyes were again drawn to the live feed, which was once again showing spewing crude oil. The above video shows the leak on June 23, sans containment cap. Watch a video of the underwater robot replacing the cap here. (Note: Video is sped up.)