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Jul 21, 2010 4:50 PM

BP plugs relief tunnel as storms threaten Gulf

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NEW ORLEANS (AP) BP has temporarily corked a relief tunnel deep beneath the sea floor as tropical rainstorms move toward the Gulf of Mexico.

The tunnel will be used to blast mud and cement into BP's leaky well, hopefully sealing it off for good.

But the threat of a tropical storm has prompted the oil giant to shut off the tunnel to keep it from being damaged.

BP vice president Kent Wells says the relief well was plugged Wednesday morning and drilling was halted.

Once the storm threat passes, they'll remove the plug and resume work.

Forecasters say a tropical weather system likely will move into the Gulf of Mexico over the weekend. It has a 50 percent chance of becoming a tropical depression or storm within the next 48 hours.

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