Submersible robots are making another risky attempt to control the Gulf oil gusher, while the crude on the surface is spreading.
BP's latest effort involves a set of tools akin to an oversized deli slicer and garden shears to break away the broken riser pipe. Engineers will then try to position a cap over the well's opening.
The risk comes from an increase in the flow of leaking oil. Even if successful, the move will temporarily allow about 20 percent more oil to flow. That's at least 100,000 gallons a day, on top of an estimated 500,000 to 1 million gallons.
In the Florida panhandle, crews have shored up miles of boom to protect the white sands of Pensacola Beach from an oil sheen spotted about nine miles offshore. It could make landfall as early as today.
Florida would be the fourth state hit. Crude has already been reported along barrier islands in Alabama and Mississippi, and it has affected some 125 miles of Louisiana coastline.
BP's stock plummeted yesterday as the federal government announced criminal and civil investigations into the spill.