Clean-Up Crews Finding Less Surface Oil in Gulf

Even before tropical storm Bonnie boats are finding less and less oil to skim. CBS

Clean-up crews are getting back in place after tropical storm Bonnie chased them out of the Gulf. Those storms never materialized. Crews will be back in full force tomorrow to find out what wind and waves from a weak system left behind.

Across the Gulf coast helicopters are scanning the shoreline for oil while a mile undersea the work to plug BP's well is picking up speed. Pressure in the well is still rising and there's no talk of collecting oil anymore, just stopping it for good, reports CBS News correspondent Kelly Cobiella.

"You have to prioritize what you are going to do and obviously getting that pipe into the relief well is the most important item we are working on," said Thad Allen.

Special Section: Disaster in the Gulf

Crews will finish stacking a mile of steel pipe down to the sea floor around midnight. Then they'll remove a temporary plug called a storm packer, clear out the tunnel and lay a final segment of steel casing - a liner - to reinforce the well followed by concrete. While the concrete is drying, BP could try the static kill, pumping mud down into the blown out well, a temporary fix.

"The next week will be preps making sure everything is ready to go and get the liner run," said Allen. "Then the week of the first of August is when we will attempt to do the static kill."

It still has to be sealed deep in the earth with the relief well to be permanently plugged. Millions of gallons of oil from BP's spill are still in the water and the weekend storm pushed all of it north closer to the Gulf shoreline. It hit a Grand Isle beach late Friday just as workers were clearing out. They're not due back until Tuesday.

A long row of pilings were put in place to hold steel barges in order to block the oil. Those barges are still tied up next to shore and it could be a week before the wall is rebuilt.

In Mississippi, out-of-work fishermen are preparing to go back on the water to look for oil again. Gulf coast fisherman Barry Rando just wants to work.

"Because there is no oystering and no shrimping right now and that was our way of living," says Rando. "Anything BP can throw at us we'll take it."

That work could become more scarce soon. Even before this storm boats were finding less and less oil to skim. If that's still the case once they finish these over flights, the Coast Guard and BP will take a second look and could scale back the number of boats and people helping to clean up.

More Oil Spill Coverage:

BP CEO Tony Hayward to Be Replaced: Official
Alarms on Oil Rig Partly Disabled before Blast
As Bonnie Looms, Relief Well Put on Hold
Bonnie Halts Spill Cleanup
Oil Spill Ships Ordered to Leave Before Bonnie
Ask CBS News: Will Storms Undo Work on Oil Well?
BP Oil Well to Stay Capped during Tropical Storm
  • Kelly Cobiella

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