A WHALE SKIMS
The Taiwanese vessel dubbed "A Whale," which its owners describe as the largest oil skimmer in the world, began showing its capabilities on Saturday just north of the Macondo Deepwater well site. The vessel will cruise a 25-square-mile test site through Sunday. Officials are waiting to see if the vessel, which is 10 stories high and as long as 3 1/2 football fields, can live up to its makers' promise of being able to process up to 21 million gallons of oil-fouled water a day.
RELIEF WELL PROGRESS
Drilling of relief wells to stop the leak is a few days ahead of schedule, though BP is sticking with its mid-August estimate of when the job will be done. BP America spokesman Daren Beaudo said severe weather could cause delays and as the drilling gets deeper, the work also becomes slower and more precise. One well will pump heavy mud to stop the leak from the damaged well. A second will serve as a backup.
Not only the obvious contenders are putting in for damage claims with BP. Churches and other nonprofit organizations are also making claims, as they see tithing and donations dwindle in the economy bruised by the spill. BP says it has not decided how it will address claims on charitable giving, but the company encouraged parties to make the claims to begin the process.
A federal judge in New Orleans is trying to streamline the legal process for more than 30 lawsuits arising from the oil rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico. 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 rig BP was operating exploded on April 20 and sank.
NO ROCK DIKES
The Army Corps of Engineers has nixed a Louisiana parish's plan to build rock barriers in five passes around an environmentally important bay. The corps said the proposal could cause more environmental problems because it didn't account for how to remove the rocks later, or how to measure any fix any damage they cause. Parish officials and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal criticized the corps' decision.