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PENSACOLA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — The geyser of oil spewing from sea floor is tapering off more day by day with the help of a wellhead cap, but there's no quick fix for containing much of the crude that has already escaped and is spreading across the Gulf of Mexico.
The cap is now keeping up to 462,000 gallons of oil a day from leaking into the Gulf, Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen said Monday in Washington. That's up from about 441,000 gallons on Saturday and about 250,000 on Friday.
Federal authorities have estimated the ruptured pipe is leaking between 500,000 gallons and 1 million gallons a day.
The battle against the oil already in the Gulf now involves "hundreds of thousands" of individual patches, said Allen, the government's point man for the spill response. Small vessels in the area have been enlisted to help capture those patches using skimmers.
The patchy oil slick now stretches from 100 miles east of the Texas-Louisiana border to near the middle of the Florida Panhandle, and down to the open sea about 150 miles west of Tampa, Fla., officials said.
Allen elaborated on comments over the weekend that the spill cleanup would last into fall, acknowledging the full cleanup would take much longer.
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