Small Part of Oil Slick Reaches Powerful Current

ROBERT, La. (AP) - Federal scientists say a small portion of the oil slick from the blown-out well in the Gulf of Mexico has reached a powerful current that could take it to Florida.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration scientists said yesterday they've detected light to very light sheens in the loop current, which circulates into the Gulf and takes water south to the Florida Keys and the Gulf Stream.

The agency says that any oil would be "highly weathered" and could evaporate before reaching Florida. And it says the oil could never reach Florida at all.

But scientists say diluted oil could appear in isolated locations in Florida if persistent winds push the current toward it.

Meanwhile, BP PLC says it hopes to start the next phase of its effort to halt the flow of oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico on Sunday or early next week.

The "top-kill" method involves shooting heavy mud into crippled equipment on top of the well to stem the flow of oil and gas. The company's engineers hope to quickly follow it up by aiming cement at the well to permanently keep down the oil.

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