BP Removes Busted Cap from Oil Spill Site

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Petty Officer First Class John Masson/US Coast Guard/Handout/Corbis

Mo’ problems, mo’ oil.

BP today was forced to remove the containment cap that for the past three weeks has diverted 18,000 barrels of oil a day to the collection vessel Discoverer Enterprise. The cap was damaged after it was hit by one of the underwater robots on the scene.

According to Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, the remote-controlled robot likely damaged a vent in the cap that had been preventing crystals of natural gas (called hydrates) from forming in the collection system. Replacing the cap could take a matter of hours or a few days — depending on whether hydrates have already accumulated in the system.

A secondary collection vessel, capturing 10,000 barrels a day, is still in operation.

The avalanche of bad news from the gulf simply does not stop: Allen also revealed that two people working on spill cleanup had died, though neither of the deaths were related to the spill. (via the New York Times)