Even if the tropical depression southeast of Florida doesn’t develop into a storm, it could produce seas high enough to set back BP’s efforts to permanently plug its blown out Macondo well if it enters the Gulf.  

Several models have the system entering the Gulf this weekend, some showing it tracking closely to the well site, which is about 40 miles from the mouth of the Mississippi River. Waves up to 5 feet are already rocking boats, with crews waiting for orders on whether they will be evacuated. If that happens, ships monitoring the well will also be moved from the site, stalling what experts say is the best chance of permanently sealing off the troubled well. Workers are just days short of completing a relief tunnel to permanently plug the free-flowing crude.

The government is also now saying the weather could require reopening the cap that has contained the oil for nearly a week, which would allow oil to flow freely into the water again for what will likely be several days.

In other Deepwater Horizon news, The New York Times is today reporting that a confidential survey of workers on the rig in the weeks before it exploded shows that many of them were concerned about safety practices and feared reprisals if they reported mistakes or other problems. In the survey, commissioned by the rig’s owner, Transocean, workers said that company plans were not carried out properly and that they “often saw unsafe behaviors on the rig.” Read that story here.

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