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Meeting held on U.S. space debris

HALIFAX, Nova Scotia, April 9 (UPI) -- Canadian and U.S. officials were meeting Saturday to help decide whether an oil rig off Newfoundland should be evacuated because of a U.S. rocket launch.

"The companies simply cannot risk the lives of oil workers," even though the odds may seem long and a temporary shutdown of the offshore operations could cost up to $203 million, Newfoundland Premier Danny Williams told the Globe and Mail. "I think they will have to evacuate."

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The U.S. military plans to launch a test rocket Wednesday from Cape Canaveral, Fla., and part of the booster stage might fall into the ocean off Newfoundland where the oil rig is located. U.S. scientists calculate the space debris would not fall closer than 15 miles from the Hibernia oil platform, staffed by 234 workers.

The decision to evacuate -- a process that could take two days and involves the capping of wells - would be the responsibility of the oil companies. Resuming production could take up to two weeks.

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