Tropical storms threaten BP's sealing effort

July 22, 2010 01:16


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BP's efforts to seal the ruptured oil well were threatened by tropical rainstorms moving toward the Gulf of Mexico Wednesday just as engineers were close to plugging the leak with mud and cement.

Retired US Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen said a weather system brewing in the Caribbean could force crews to abandon their watch over the experimental cap that's been bottling oil a mile (1.6 kilometers) below the surface of the water for nearly a week.

A weather system brewing in the Caribbean prompted crews to temporarily cork a relief tunnel deep beneath the sea floor, BP vice president Kent Wells said Wednesday afternoon. The storm is still hundreds of miles away and may never reach the area, but the oil giant doesn't want to risk damaging BP's best bet at permanently sealing the well.

"What we didn't want to do is be in the middle of an operation and potentially put the relief well at some risk," Wells said Wednesday afternoon. "It just seemed like the logical thing to do."

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