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Coastal Crisis Help

GULF OF MEXICO (WAFB/AP) - Rig workers tell BP's internal investigators that a deadly blowout of an oil well in the Gulf of Mexico was triggered by a methane gas bubble that escaped and shot toward the surface.

The interviews were described in detail to an AP reporter by an oil pipeline safety expert who received them from former industry colleagues seeking his opinion.

Deep beneath the sea floor, methane gas is in a slushy, crystalline form. As the workers removed pressure from the well and introduced heat, the cement seal around the pipe destabilized, creating a gas bubble. It intensified and grew, breaking through the rig's various safety barriers.

Seven BP executives were on board the rig celebrating the project's safety record when it occurred.

The National Guard is building a 300-foot temporary wharf at a St. Bernard marina, to be used to load booms and supplies onto boats. Sgt. Denis Ricou says the 2225th Multi-Role Bridge Company, 205th Engineer Battalion is launching bridge erection boats and float ribbon bridge sets at Campo's Marina.

A rapid response team will investigate unconfirmed reports that oil from the spill in the Gulf of Mexico has reached the Chandeleur Islands off Louisiana's coast.

Coast Guard Petty Officer Erik Swanson said the response team will deploy Thursday to assess the situation. Two satellite images taken Wednesday morning indicated oil has reached the Mississippi Delta and the Chandeleur Islands.

The US Department of State says officials are considering offers of assistance from 13 countries and the United Nations to help with the oil spill. Canada and Mexico are among those offering equipment and experts in containing and cleaning up the leak from the oil rig.

Officials said for the first time Wednesday that oil could be moving west of the Mississippi River. Gov. Bobby Jindal said oil could possibly reach areas of the Barataria Basin. A river pilot reported thick oil seven miles out from the Southwest Pass, the main shipping channel of the Mississippi River.

The Coast Guard reported two controlled burns got underway Wednesday. Boats kind of swept the sometimes scattered oil inside a boom and then the collected mass of oil was set afire. One of the three leaks was also capped.

Officials said it was "not a significant" leak. It was a smaller one, but still an improvement. BP confirmed the leak was capped. The major leak is still flowing. Click here for more on helping

Gov. Bobby Jindal traveled to Venice, where he joined Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser to activate the parish's first jack up barge for oil response efforts and highlight plans by the state and coastal parishes to mitigate the impact of the oil spill on Louisiana's coast.

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee plans to hold a hearing on the spill next Tuesday to examine the spill's impact on the environment and the economy. Officials from BP, Halliburton and Transocean are expected to testify.

Executives from BP, Transocean and Halliburton have told a small group of congressmen the daily oil leak could rise to a stunning 1.7 million gallons a day if their efforts to cap the leak fail. They emphasized it is a worst-case scenario, but it would be eight times the daily amount spewing into the Gulf right now. Click here to follow national coverage of the spill

Jindal said the first oil sheens were hitting the Chandeleur Islands Tuesday morning. BP officials claim chemical dispersants have had some success in breaking up oil so it will drop to the Gulf floor.

BP hopes to lower massive containment booms to trap the oil and funnel it up. They're also working on drilling a relief well, but it is estimated the plan could take three months to complete.

President Barack Obama said Tuesday the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is a reminder that the nation's economy can face a sudden and costly crisis at any time.

He said the federal government is committed to supporting the economies in the Gulf that will be affected by the spill and he would like to see some of the people affected given jobs assisting with the recovery efforts.

Satellite image of the oil slick Tuesday indicated it had shrunk since last week, but scientists said it only meant some of the oil has gone underwater. The new image also showed patches of oil had begun to break away.

Dave Wesley with the NOAA actually credited the strong winds and rough seas with helping to create some of that breakage. Despite all of the talk about the big waves hampering containment efforts, he said they are not always a bad thing.

"Definitely, the strong seas that we've seen recently are good," he said. "Wave energy helps to break up the oil."

To report wildlife dangers from the oil spill, call 1-866-557-1401. To discuss spill related damage, call 1-800-440-0858. To report oiled shoreline or request volunteer information, call 1-866-448-5816.

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