Joint Incident Commander mentions phrase "vital signs" four times in two minutes at today's press conference.
Press Briefing by National Incident Commander Thad Allen, August 18, 2010 at 12:15 p.m. EDT:
We're concerned about the vital signs of this well. We continue to be concerned about the vital signs.
Our first goal is to do no harm. We are doing extensive consultation between our engineering team and the BP engineers. We are moving to prepare the well, the BOP, and a new blowout preventer for either course of action, whether it is putting a blowout preventer before or after we do the bottom kill. We will know when we have satisfied ourselves that we know the vital signs and we've removed every piece -- any shadow of a doubt of any information we could develop from top side before we go forward...
We're trying to do two things while the evaluation of alternatives is going on. We have the opportunity to develop more vital signs for the well, one of them being to remove all foreign objects -- all foreign liquids from the current well, flush it, and fill it with seawater, so we have exactly the same density of material inside and outside the BOP that will allow us to do an ambient pressure test to see if there's any kind of pressure, a rise or fall related to something other than what we believe now to be the gas bubbles that are escaping and causing the drop in pressure.