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Waste and Emissions»BP readies dome to stem Gulf of Mexico oil spill

»Thursday, May 13,2010

A steel dome designed to cap the damaged oil well polluting the Gulf of Mexico will hopefully be operational later on Thursday, BP says. The latest bid to plug the gushing well comes after previous efforts to stem the flow failed.

An attempt to use a larger containment dome failed on Sunday when it became clogged with ice and gas.

Some 15m litres of crude oil has so far leaked into the Gulf from the sunken Deepwater Horizon rig.

Engineers now hope a smaller dome, known as a top hat, might stem at least some of the oil.

That dome is now on the sea-bed and engineers hope to link a second pipe to the end of the pipe supposed to pump oil from the sea floor, BP says.

BP hopes this pipe will funnel away oil that had collected in the original piping - or riser - into container ships on the surface.

But there is no guarantee that the plan will work, says the BBC's US correspondent Andy Gallacher.

And if it fails, BP may have to drill a relief well which, our correspondent adds, could take weeks.

Human hair

Emergency teams are using several methods in their attempts to deal with the oil at the surface.

Thousands of clean up crews, soldiers and volunteers have all been deployed to keep the expanding oil slick from damaging the coastlines of four states.

Around 1.5m ft of floating booms are being used as part of the efforts to stop oil reaching the coast, Reuters reports.

A US charity is even making booms out of nylon tights, animal fur and human hair.

Hair donations have been sent from around the world to help make the special booms, which will be laid on beaches to soak up any oil that washes ashore.

Eleven people died when an explosion - thought to have occurred after a surge of methane gas from deep within the well - destroyed the Deepwater Horizon rig on 20 April.

The huge oil spill has so far cost BP - which is in charge of the clean-up operation - $450m (300m).

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