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BP will continue live video feed during 'top kill' attempt

By the CNN Wire Staff
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: BP agrees to keep live video feed on during top kill attempt
  • Equipment readied for latest effort to seal well
  • Plan to begin top kill Wednesday; BP gives it 60 to 70 percent chance of success
  • President on Friday will make his second visit to the area since the oil spill

The situation in the Gulf keeps getting worse, and so far, there's no end in sight. Anderson Cooper reports live tonight from the region as BP makes another attempt to stop the leak. Watch "AC360°" tonight at 10 ET on CNN for the latest on stopping the leak.

Venice, Louisiana (CNN) -- BP says it will continue to provide a live video feed of the ruptured pipe gushing oil into the Gulf of Mexico during Wednesday's planned top kill procedure to seal the well.

Earlier Tuesday, there had been some consternation on Capitol Hill when it wasn't certain BP would maintain the live feed.

Democratic Rep. Edward J. Markey of Massachusetts expressed concern that BP might terminate the images during the top kill attempt.

"It is outrageous that BP would kill the video feed for the top kill," said Rep. Edward J. Markey, D-Massachusetts before BP's announcement to continue the live video, which CNN.com carries.

Markey chairs the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming and the Energy and Environment Subcommittee in the Energy and Commerce Committee.

With the Gulf of Mexico oil slick growing thick and public patience growing thin, BP put equipment in place Tuesday for the top kill, a procedure that has never been tried under a mile of water.

All of BP's previous attempts to cap the Gulf oil spill have failed.

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There's a 30 or 40 percent chance that the top kill won't work. Nevertheless, it's a pivotal moment for the London-based oil giant.

After diagnostic testing that could take up to 12 hours, BP plans to pump 50,000 pounds of thick, viscous fluid twice the density of water into the site of the leak to stop the oil flow. The well can then be sealed for good with cement.

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Depending on the pressure readings, the top kill could start as early as Wednesday, said BP Senior Vice President Kent Wells.

"Normally you'd spend months to do what we've done in days and weeks," Wells said Tuesday in a conference call with reporters.

It's a method that has succeeded on above-ground oil wells in the Middle East but has never been done on the ocean floor.

Wells said a team of experts will examine conditions inside the five-story blowout preventer to ascertain how much pressure the injected mud will have to overcome. A blowout preventer is a device that is supposed to stop oil from gushing into the sea in the event of a problem like the one triggered when the oil rig Deepwater Horizon sank a month ago, triggering the leak.

Congressional investigators reported Tuesday that BP had three indications of trouble aboard the doomed drill rig Deepwater Horizon in the hour before the April 20 explosion that sank the offshore platform.

A memo released by the House Energy and Commerce Committee said the well unexpectedly spouted fluid three times in the 51 minutes before the explosion, and pressure on the drill pipe "unexpectedly increased" before the blast.

The memo summarizes preliminary findings of BP's own investigation into the disaster, which left 11 workers dead and triggered an undersea gusher that has spewed crude oil into the Gulf for more than a month.

Read more about the oil rig report

BP's latest troubles come amid a memorial service for 11 victims of the oil rig collapse and new controversy surrounding federal inspectors overseeing oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.

A report from the Interior Department's inspector general found that inspectors in the Minerals Management Service accepted meals and tickets to sporting events, such as the 2005 Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl game, from companies they monitored.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, who has ordered a widespread shake-up of the agency since the massive oil spill now fouling the Gulf of Mexico, called the report "yet another reason to clean house."

In Jackson, Mississippi, the 11 men who died in the oil rig explosion were remembered Tuesday in a poignant memorial service. Some of them have sued BP and Transocean, owner of the Deepwater Horizon oil drilling rig.

Meanwhile, Carol Browner, the assistant to the president on energy and climate change, told CNN Tuesday that she is optimistic about BP's attempt at a top kill.

"We want this to work and will do everything in our power to make sure it works," the former Environmental Protection Agency administrator said. "We need the BP technology -- they know how to operate the little robots, how to operate the vessels. But we're not relying on them."

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Browner said the federal government will have its own experts analyze and evaluate the top-kill procedure.

"We want this thing shut down," she said.

But there was a "remote possibility" that BP would have to call off the top kill, Wells said. Or that it will not work at 5,000 feet under the surface.

If the top-kill procedure fails, BP will try to fit a second, smaller containment dome over a ruptured pipe. A first containment dome did not succeed in stopping the leak.

The company said it has other options, too: One of those options would be to install a second blowout preventer at the leak site.

The blowout preventer did not function properly after the rig sank about 40 miles off Louisiana, and oil has been gushing into the Gulf ever since at an estimated rate of about 5,000 barrels a day (210,000 gallons).

Some estimates have put the amount of oil spewing from the well far higher.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke has declared a fishery disaster in the Gulf.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has closed nearly 22 percent of the federal waters in the Gulf for commercial and recreational fishing. Locke's declaration will allow the federal government to give Gulf states additional resources to soften the blow.

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With the Obama administration under increasing criticism for its handling of the spill, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said the government considers BP the responsible party. President Obama will be visiting the Louisiana coast on Friday, according to White House spokesman Robert Gibbs. It will be Obama's second visit to the area since the oil spill.

This week, the anger and frustration in oil spill-affected coastal communities came through loud and clear.

"BP We Want Our Beach Back" read one of many signs posted in Grand Isle, Louisiana, where fishing is a $2.4 billion industry.

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