Allen: Cleanup entering new phase

Aug. 6, 2010 at 5:32 PM
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NEW ORLEANS, Aug. 6 (UPI) -- Cleanup operations in the Gulf of Mexico are being downsized, retired U.S. Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen said Friday.

Protective booms are being picked up in areas where they are no longer needed, Allen told reporters in a telephone conference call.

"In general, as we get to a point where boom is not needed in a certain location, we will pick that boom up, get it ready for redeployment and stage it but not deploy it unless it's absolutely necessary," he said. "We'll work that locally with the states and the parishes as we move forward."

Allen also described further work that needs to be done to ensure BP's Macondo well is capped top and bottom. He said a layer of fluid has been put on top of the cement capping the well to help cure it and pressure testing will start during the weekend.

Drilling to connect the well to the relief will continue into mid-August, Allen said.

The damaged well began spewing oil into the gulf after an explosion and fire April 20 on the Deepwater Horizon drilling platform and a failure of the blowout preventer.

Allen said he had no information on reports that BP plans to ask for permission to recover oil from the reservoir through one of the relief wells.

BP announced Friday that Mike Utsler is replacing Doug Suttles as the executive in charge of overall spill response. Utsler had been heading BP operations in Houma, La.

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