Isolated Leak Near Top of BP's Cap

By: Ashton King Email
By: Ashton King Email

BP says there's a leak near the top of a new cap designed to stop the flow of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, but the company says it's isolated and is being repaired, adding work on the latest fix is not in jeopardy.

BP could know by Thursday whether its latest attempt to choke off the gushing oil leak is working.

"This test will run for a maximum of 48 hours at which time we will stand down, assess where we're at, and assess the next steps,” said Adm. Thad Allen, National Incident Commander for the Coast Guard.

Critical testing of a new 75-ton cap began Wednesday as underwater robots started shutting off a sequence of three valves, redirecting the oil through two side valves on the cap. The hope is the device will block the flow of crude for the first time in almost three months.

"I think there needs to be an overabundance of caution, and I don't want anyone's hopes up," said Allen.

The latest fix hit a snag Wednesday night when BP discovered a leak near the top of the new cap, but the company says it's isolated and is being repaired.

Tara Mergener reports, “The government originally delayed testing for a day over concerns about the project. BP was only given the go ahead after proving its work wouldn't make the disaster even worse.”

"I think in the interest of the American people, safety of the environment and safety of this project moving forward, it was advisable to take a 24-hour break, making sure we got this absolutely right,” said Allen.

BP engineers will check pressure readings every six hours to make sure the leak isn't getting bigger.

A high pressure reading of 8,000 pounds per square inch means the well is in good shape. A low reading means oil is still leaking into the gulf.

If the cap works, it could buy BP some much needed time trapping the oil in the well or funneling it to ships until relief wells are completed.

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