Oil Containment Dome Arrives at Leaking Rig

Thursday, May 06, 2010

A boat bearing a specially made 100-ton concrete-and-steel dome has finally arrived at the oil rig that's leaking 200,000 gallons of oil a day into the Gulf of Mexico. 

The Associated Press reports that the next step will be to position and lower the containment dome 5,000 feet underseas, over the leaking well on the sunken rig. Assuming the drop is made successfully, a pipe would then siphon the leaking oil up to a ship on the Gulf's surface.

"It's very dark down there...and we will have lights on...and we know exactly where to put this and guide it into place," BP's Vice President David Clarkson told The AP. BP contracted the Transocean Ltd. oil rig that sunk more than two weeks ago, and has been in charge of containing the oil leaks on the sunken rig ever since.

Engineers hope the dome will finally contain two of the remaining oil leaks on the well. But the mission has its risks. A dome has never been dropped this deep under water. The frigid 42 degree Fahrenheit water and high pressure at 5,000 feet deep could cause "ice plugs" in the pipe that engineers hope will siphon the leaking oil above the sea.

"I know we are all hoping that this containment system will work, but I want to remind everybody that this containment system is a first of its kind deployed in 5,000 feet of water," Coast Guard Rear Admiral Mary Landry told reporters.

A crew is expected to begin the containment dome drop at noon today.

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