Department of Justice attorney Mike Underhill admitted that testing on the failed blowout preventer (BOP) that caused the explosion on the Deepwater Horizon oil platform and later let out millions of gallons of oil into the gulf is running behind schedule. But, he said he's confident testing will begin in the next few days.
Speaking to U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier at the Eastern District of Louisiana in New Orleans, Underhill said that at the moment, the BOP is sitting on a pier while forensic investigators begin their work. He said that there is also the lengthy and costly process of building a warehouse around the BOP, so that it can be preserved.
Barbier presides over oil spill cases by appointment of the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multi District Litigation.
"It causes me concern that testing is running behind," Barbier said.
Barbier cited his 12 years on the bench in federal court for being aware that government bureaucracy can slow down the investigative process and asked that Underhill emphasize to BOP workers the importance of getting the BOP testing done.
Underhill said that Barbier's message has been received and that he will relay it on to the people working on the ground. Underhill said that he's optimistic that testing will begin soon, but he can't give a final date on when it will all be completed.
The delayed testing of the BOP has already pushed the first proposed trial date back from late 2011 to early 2012.