300-ton evidence on way to Gulf surface

Sept. 4, 2010 at 10:47 AM

NEW ORLEANS, Sept. 4 (UPI) -- A major piece of evidence in this summer's massive Gulf of Mexico oil spill is headed toward the ocean's surface for a federal inspection, an official said.

Retired Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, who is overseeing the government's response to the BP oil spill, said it would take up to 36 hours for the well's blowout preventer to reach the surface, The Washington Post reported Saturday.

The preventer failed to do its job and allowed millions of barrels of oil to leak into the gulf after the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded April 20, claiming 11 lives.

The preventer may have been jammed open with a piece of pipe during the early stages of the disaster, the newspaper said.

The (Baton Rouge, La.) Advocate said the preventer, which was replaced with a new one Friday, was 50-feet-tall and weighed 300 tons.

Technically, it is already federal evidence. The government "will take custody of all equipment … from the time it is removed from the wellhead and will maintain that custody throughout the lifting process," Allen said in a letter to BP Chief Managing Director Bob Dudley.

As evidence, the preventer that did not work could help determine the extent of BP's liability in the case.

BP has said it has already spent $8 billion on clean up and other costs associated with the disaster.

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