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BBC News

Gulf Oil Spill: First Leak Capped, Says BP

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BP has managed to seal the smallest of the three
leaks spilling oil into the Gulf of Mexico, the company says.

Oil
is still gushing into the sea at a rate of about 800,000 litres a day,
but officials say working with only two leaks makes tackling the spill
easier.

Remote-controlled submarines are being used to guide a
specially-constructed dome into place to try to stem the main leaks.

Engineers plan to deploy the 100-tonne dome over the site on Thursday.

BP
has never deployed such a structure at a depth of 5,000ft (1,500m) and
difficulties may occur, it says. The deployment is expected to take more
than two days.

Describing the cap, coast guard officer David
Mosley told AP news agency: "It doesn't lessen the flow, it just
simplifies the number of leak points they have to address."

The
spill was set off by an explosion that destroyed the Deepwater Horizon
oil rig and killed 11 workers off Louisiana last month.

If the
operation goes well, the dome could start funnelling the oil into a
tanker early next week.

A sheen of oil has already reached the
shore in parts of Louisiana but officials say coagulated crude oil is
not expected to reach coastal areas until the end of the week, AFP
reports.

BP has told members of a US congressional committee that
up to 9.5 million litres a day could spill if the leaks worsen, AP
notes.

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