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BP oil spill could be worst US environmental disaster

Reuters

The oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico has been described as the worst environmental disaster in US history after BP announced that its “top kill” operation has failed.Senior US environmental advisor Carol Browner said she is now “preparing for the worst”, six weeks after the explosion on an oil rig that ruptured a pipe a mile below the surface. 

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"More oil is leaking in the Gulf of Mexico than at any other time in our history," she told NBC's Meet The Press on Sunday.

Browner said it was possible that "we will have oil leaking from this well until August when the relief wells will be finished."

BP Chief Operating Officer Doug Suttles said engineers will now try using another device called the Lower Marine Riser Package Cap.

Remotely operated robots on the ocean floor, 1.6 kilometres below the spot where the rig exploded will now sever the bent riser pipe and replace it with the LMRP cap. The oil will then be siphoned to the surface.

The well will only be sealed when BP finishes drilling two relief wells, but those are not expected to be ready until August.

At least 20 million gallons are now estimated to have leaked into the ocean since the BP-leased Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded on 20 April and sank, killing 11 workers.

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