BP executives speak on Capitol Hill - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

BP executives speak on Capitol Hill

WASHINGTON (ABC)-- Executives are set to endure a second round of grilling Wednesday for their companies' roles in the Gulf oil slick.  Although the oil still gushes from the sea floor, there are signs that the slick is actually shrinking.  And a second, smaller oil containment box has been lowered into the Gulf near the site of blown-out well.

Just over three weeks after the oil spill in the Gulf, ABC News has learned that while less oil is coming out of the leak, more natural gas is escaping.  And that gas is vaporizing into the atmosphere.

Professor Satish Nagarajaiah of Rice University says, "Natural gas by itself does affect the environment but not to the same extent as oil."

On Alabama's Dauphin Island, catfish are washing ashore,  possible victims of a spill that so far, has only brushed Louisiana's barrier islands.

Billy Nungesser, President of Plaquemines Parish, says, "If that oil does come ashore and hit the marshlands it will be worse than ten Katrinas."

As British Petroleum continues to work on the problem, its executives were on Capitol Hill.  But BP insists it isn't to blame for the explosion and subsequent leak.

Lamar McKay, Chairman and President of BP America, says, "Transocean, as owner and operator of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig, had responsibility for the safety of drilling operations."

Transocean says blame Halliburton, which encased the pipe in cement.

Steven Newman, CEO and President of Transocean, says, "There was a sudden catastrophic failure of the cement, the casing, or both."

Halliburton also blames Transocean and its safety device, called a blow-out preventer.

Tim Probert of Halliburton says, "Had the BOP functioned as expected, this catastrophe may well not have occurred."

In two separate hearings, senators grew tired of executives passing the buck.

Senator John Barrasso, a Republican from Wyoming, says, "I hear one message. And the message is: don't blame me. Well, shifting this blame does not get us very far."

Because less oil appears to be leaking, BP believes a plan to fire rubber tires and golf balls into the pipe to clog it now actually has a chance of working.

Online Reporter: Jill Courtney

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