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BP may stem oil spill with golf balls, tyres

Last updated on: May 10, 2010 19:57 IST

BP may stem oil spill with golf balls, tyres

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Unable to stem a huge oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, desperate British Petroleum officials are now considering stuffing the well with golf balls and tyres.

Meanwhile, in a statement, BP also said that the huge oil spill had so far cost the company $350 million.

Engineers are examining whether they can close a failed blowout preventer by stuffing it with trash, said Adm. Thad Allen, the commandant of the Coast Guard.

The 48-foot-tall, 450-tonne device sits atop the well at the heart of the Gulf oil spill and is designed to stop leaks, but it has not been working properly since the oil rig Deepwater Horizon exploded April 20 and later sank.

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Image: Oil is seen on the surface of the Gulf of Mexico in an aerial view of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill off the coast of Mobile, Alabama.
Photographs: Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Michael B. Watkins/US Navy/Handout/Reuters
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"The next tactic is going to be something they call a junk shot," Allen told CBS's Face the Nation on Sunday.

"They'll take a bunch of debris -- shredded up tires, golf balls and things like that -- and under very high pressure, shoot it into the preventer itself and see if they can clog it up and stop the leak."

BP chief operating officer Doug Suttles said the so-called "junk shot" of debris was one option after previous attempts to stem the flow failed.

A growing slick from the BP-leased rig is threatening a massive environmental disaster along US coasts.

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Image: Fire boat response crews battle the blazing remnants of the off shore oil rig Deepwater Horizon, off Louisiana.
Photographs: US Coast Guard/Handout/Ho New/Reuters
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Some 5,000 barrels or 210,000 gallons of oil a day are flowing into the sea. US President Barack Obama is due to meet senior officials at the White House on Monday to review BP's efforts as tar balls have reached as far as the Alabama coast.

Suttles said it may be possible to stem the flow by blocking the well's failed blowout preventer.

"We have some pipe work on the blowout preventer, and if we can open certain valves on that we could inject basically just rubber and other type of material into [it] to plug it up, not much different to the way you might plug up a toilet," he said.

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Image: Workers contracted by British Petroleum set out booms from their oyster boat to protect the shoreline against oil drifting from the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico as it creeps closer to land in Cat Pass, Louisiana.
Photographs: Lee Celano/Reuters
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However, experts have warned that any further damage to the blowout preventer - a huge valve system meant to turn the oil off - could see it shooting out at 12 times the current rate.

The Deepwater Horizon rig caught fire and sank following an explosion last month, leaving 11 men presumed dead aboard the rig. It also caused the massive underwater gusher that the company and the federal government have been trying to cap since late April.

BP, the well's owner, had attempted to lower a four-storey containment vessel over the well to cap the larger of the well's two leak points. But that plan was thwarted Saturday after ice-like hydrate crystals, formed when gas combined with water, blocked the top of the dome and made it buoyant.


Image: A dead fish is seen on the side of a road in Venice, Louisiana.
Photographs: Carlos Barria/Reuters
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