BP affixes new cap on Gulf oil well; tests ahead

July 13, 2010 05:43

NEW ORLEANS  — BP robots attached a new, tighter-fitting cap on top of the gushing Gulf of Mexico oil leak Monday, raising hopes that the crude could be kept from polluting the water for the first time in nearly three months.

Placing the cap on top of the leak was the climax of two days of delicate preparation work and a day of slowly lowering it into position 1.6 kilometers below the sea. The capping project, akin to building an underwater 'Lego' tower, is just a temporary fix, but the oil giant's best hope for containing the spill.

The next unknown is whether the 18-foot (5.5-meter)-high, 150,000-pound (68,000-kilogram) metal stack of pipes and valves will work.

BP plans to start tests Tuesday, gradually shutting the valves to see if the oil stops or if it starts leaking from another part of the well.

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