Efforts to cap a leaking oil well in the Gulf of Mexico suffered a major setback Saturday, after ice-like crystals clogged the inside of a massive dome meant to contain an 18-day-long spill.
The crystals forced officials to move the steel-and-concrete dome, which is still on the sea bed, some 650 feet away from the well — and to scramble to find ways to stop the water-and-gas crystals from forming.
"I wouldn't say it failed yet," said Doug Suttles, chief operating officer of BP, the London-based company that owns the leaking well. "What I would say is what we attempted to do last night didn't work."
He kept expectations low, however. "It's very difficult to predict whether we will find solutions," he said.
The dome was considered the best short-term solution to stop much of the spill. Engineers had hoped to contain 85 percent of the estimated 210,000 gallons gushing daily from the well by funneling oil to the surface from the dome, which is really a 78-ton box with a pyramid on the top. The 40-foot box took about two weeks to build.
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