Fighting Oil: Dome Arrives to Cap Leak

Crews will lower cap thousands of feet into the sea.

May 5, 2010, 6:45 PM

May 6, 2010— -- A metal box weighing more than 100 tons and representing British Petroleum's hopes of stopping spewing oil arrived this morning at the site of the leak in the Gulf of Mexico.

Crews will use a crane during the next few days to lower the dome over the leak. BP hopes it can then funnel the oil to the surface, although officials admit that they're not sure if it will work.

"It has never been done at 5,000 feet below the sea, but that's the option the team is working on," BP Chief Executive Tony Hayward said.

The only tactic that has worked so far is burning the oil. Officials have restarted that strategy now that the weather has improved.

BP will no longer dump tens of thousands of gallons of chemical dispersants a mile below the sea at the site of the leak until environmental-impact tests can be performed.

Near the Chandeleur Islands, a remote chain of barrier islands in eastern Louisiana, a layer of brown slime carpeted the water Wednesday. The slime, which is not as thick as oil, could be the chemical dispersant that had been pumped down to the site of the leak to break up the oil before it reached the surface.

"The dispersants, which are being flown on out there right now and injected into the well, have a very high toxicity level," Louis Miller, the state director of the Mississippi Sierra Club, said.

The company will not say exactly what chemicals make up the dispersant but insists the chemicals are not dangerous. Indeed, BP is still spraying them from the sky.

"With time, this dispersant breaks it up, and it will take care of itself," BP Senior Executive Vice President Bob Fryar said. "That's when nature kicks in and takes care of it."

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Commerce Secretary Gary Locke join with Interior Secretary Ken Salazar today on the Gulf Coast.

A trip last week by Department of the Interior Chief of Staff Tom Strickland raised concerns when it was learned that he was in the Grand Canyon with his wife while his agency was coordinating the federal response effort to the spill.

ABC News' Jake Tapper reported that the trip included white-water rafting, but Obama administration officials said it was "work-focused."

BP said Wednesday that it had successfully capped one of the three leaks at the site. Although that will not slow the flow of oil, BP said it would make the collection work easier going forward.

Investigators Look Into Turtle Deaths

Further east along the Gulf Coast, wildlife officials are still trying to determine how 35 endangered sea turtles died. Necropsies have not turned up any signs of oil, and federal investigators are now questioning whether fishermen could be responsible for the deaths, according to a representative of the National Marine Fisheries Service.

The law requires fishermen to use nets equipped with turtle excluder devices, intended to allow endangered sea turtles to escape from harm. The netting can reduce a fisherman's catch, so investigators are said to be trying to determine if fishermen abandoned the devices in order to haul in more fish and shrimp before the oil slick hits.

Fishermen in Mississippi rejected that suggestion Wednesday, telling the AP that they wouldn't abandon the nets out of fear of harsh fines.

"It's bull, straight bull," shrimper Jim Rowell told the Associated Press. "The commercial fishermen are the best environmentalists out here."

Thousands of fishermen are already out of work because of the spill. A large community of Vietnamese-American shrimpers who have been stopped by the spill are among several groups considering a class-action lawsuit.

Estimates have put the spill-related damages in the billions, even before any sizable amount of oil has hit land. Florida tourism officials were trying today to dispel suggestions that its beaches had already been sullied by the oil.

"We are not two or three days away from it hitting shore," David Halstead, Florida's emergency management chief, told the AP. "The beaches are still open."

They may be open for now, but the anxiety and anger continue to grow as the Gulf coast prepares for the oil's eventual landfall.

ABC's Jake Tapper and Clayton Sandell and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Click here to return to the "Good Morning America" website.

ABC News Live

ABC News Live

24/7 coverage of breaking news and live events