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Aug 31, 2010 9:20 PM by Alison Haynes

Waves hamper raising key equipment in oil spill

MYRTLE GROVE, La. (AP) - Work to remove the 300-ton piece of
equipment that failed to stop the massive oil spill in the Gulf of
Mexico could be delayed into the weekend or longer because of rough
seas, the federal government's point man on the spill response said
Tuesday.
Engineers had hoped to begin the operation Monday but were
hampered by the rough waters, retired Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen
said.
The process involves removing the cap that stopped oil from
gushing from the site of the spill in mid-July, then removing the
failed blowout preventer and replacing it with a new one. That
would clear the way for completion of a relief well and the final,
permanent plugging of the well with mud and cement from the bottom.
It also would allow authorities to analyze a crucial piece of
evidence in the investigation into what caused the April 20
explosion that killed 11 workers and led to 206 million gallons of
oil spewing from BP's undersea well.
The 50-foot blowout preventer must be raised delicately to
prverrve it. It also is being raised with a piece of pipe still
lodged inside. Allen said the weight of the blowout preventer and
the pipe "we will use to lift it is a million pounds."
Officials don't believe more oil will leak when the cap and
blowout preventer are removed, but they are preparing just in case.
Seas were 6-feet or higher Tuesday, Allen said. They would have
to be closer to 4 feet for the work to be done safely. A three-day
forecast indicates the waves will be too high at least until
Friday. And, Allen cautioned, they could last longer.
Allen addressed reporters after a private meeting with Billy
Nungesser, the president of coastal Plaquemines Parish, who for
months after the Deepwater Horizon rig explosion was a frequent
critic of Allen and the overall response of BP and the government.
Nungesser frequently complained that responders were too slow to
get equipment in place where needed to keep oil off beaches and out
of sensitive coastal marshes.
On Tuesday, however, he had nothing bad to say after a private
meeting with Allen.
"Although we've had our differences early on, today, we are on
the same team. We are getting the job done," said Nungesser, who
thanked Allen and President Barack Obama for their efforts.
The rig that exploded was being leased by BP at the time of the
incident. It was owned by Transocean Ltd. BP was a majority owner
of the undersea well that spewed oil.

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