NEW ORLEANS, May 4 (UPI) -- A relief well below the water surface is intercepting oil leaking from a sunken platform in the Gulf of Mexico, BP announced Tuesday.
BP is working to contain oil spilling from the wellhead of the sunken Deepwater Horizon platform. Oil is leaking from the platform at a rate of 5,000 barrels per day. Some oil has reached the southern U.S. coast, creating what some describe as a historic environmental disaster.
BP Chief Executive Officer Tony Hayward said the relief well was meant to stop the loss of oil from the well.
"At the same time we are continuing with our efforts to stop the leak and control the oil at the seabed, to tackle the oil offshore and to protect the shoreline through a massive effort together with government agencies and local communities," he added.
BP, as the operator of Deepwater Horizon, is under fire for the disaster in which 11 workers died. Top U.S. emergency, environmental and interior officials met Monday with Hayward in Louisiana to discuss an effective response plan for coastal areas in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida.
The petroleum giant added that it injected more dispersants directly into the oil flow to break up the slick. Work on a containment canopy is under way to isolate the flow of oil.
BP said the drilling at the relief well began Sunday. The containment canopy could be in position "in a little more than a week."