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METAIRIE, La. (AP) — BP sliced off a pipe with giant shears Thursday in the latest bid to curtail the worst oil spill in U.S. history, but the cut was jagged and placing a cap over the gusher will now be more challenging.
BP turned to the shears after a diamond-tipped saw became stuck in the pipe halfway through the job, yet another frustrating delay in the six-week-old Gulf of Mexico spill.
The cap will be lowered and sealed over the leak, said Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, the government's point man for the disaster. It won't be known how much oil BP can siphon to a tanker on the surface until the cap is fitted, but the irregular cut means it won't fit as snugly as officials hoped.
"We'll have to see when we get the containment cap on it just how effective it is," Allen said. "It will be a test and adapt phase as we move ahead, but it's a significant step forward."
Even if it works, BP engineers expect oil to continue leaking into the ocean.
The next chance to stop the flow won't come until two relief wells meant to plug the reservoir for good are finished in August.
BP Chief Executive Tony Hayward promised the company would clean up every drop of oil, and "restore the shoreline to its original state."
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