BP Oil Spill Containment: Cocktail Chatter

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Flickr photo by IBRRC
Every week in cocktail chatter, we tell you what you need to know to sound like an expert at this weekend's play date, dinner party, or post office meeting.

This week's cheat sheet: the BP Oil Spill containment efforts.

What it is: Since the fire on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig last month, millions of gallons of oil have leaked into the Gulf of Mexico. Now oil company BP -- which was leasing Deepwater Horizon to Transocean -- says it has one of three leaks closed off. Efforts will continue this weekend to cut off the other two.

Terms to Know:

Cofferdam: A 40-foot tall structure also being called a "dome," this concrete structure will be lowered over one of the main oil leaks to stop the flow into the water. Pipes will then pump the oil safely out of the dome.

Oil slick: The millions of gallons of oil leaking are floating to the water's surface and sitting there, blanketing the Gulf of Mexico in a thick, black tar-like cover.

Dispersant: Chemicals being dropped by the U. S. Coast Guard, these break down the oil on the water's surface and are supposed to reduce the amount of oil that will wash up on shore.

IBRRC: International Bird Rescue Rearch Center folks have been on hand helping rescue the wildlife along with the Tri-State Bird Rescue and Research. You can donate online to help the cause.

Louisiana Offshore Oil Port: The nation's only deepwater oil terminal, this is where tankers access the crude oil to transport to places where it will be refined. Also known as the LOOP, it's still working right now, but the oil spill has threatened to disturb its operation.

Phrases to Drop:

"The dome may stop the leak, but they've never attempted one of these at a depth of 5,000 feet before."

"The spill is probably going to be worse than the Exxon Valdez; they say it's five times worse than they first thought."

"Off-shore drilling leases off of Virginia have been suspended indefinitely thanks to the oil spill in the gulf."

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