'Domes' made in Port Fourchon to be lowered onto spill site

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by Paul Murphy / Eyewitness News

wwltv.com

Posted on May 3, 2010 at 4:12 PM

Updated Monday, May 3 at 5:52 PM

PORT FOURCHON, La. - British Petroleum showed reporters Monday one way it hopes to control the flow of leaking oil from the damaged underwater well head.

The company wants to place huge boxes over the leaks to channel the oil to the surface.

At the Wild Well Control Yard in Port Fourchon, crews are working around the clock on a somewhat low-tech strategy to cap that leaking oil well out in the gulf.

Welders and fabricators are building two 98-ton concrete and metal boxes. They are both 40 feet tall and 14 by 24 feet wide.

The plan is to lower the boxes over the source of the leaking oil about a mile underwater. The so-called cofferdams have a funnel on top connected to a pipe. In theory, once in place oil will flow into the containment system’s dome through the pipe to a barge on the surface.

This is the first time this system will be used in deepwater, but we are told that similar contraptions have actually worked in shallow water.

This is one of a number of strategies BP is pursuing to stop the leaking well, now gushing more than 200,000 gallons of crude oil per day.

"In the center you start with the leak, the less impact there is, which is why if we can't activate the blow out preventer, this will help funnel and channel the oil and keep it out of the environment," said John Curry, a BP spokesman.

"We've used these chambers, on a lot smaller scale obviously, on multiple occasions here in the gulf and have had very good success in containing the pollution," said Jason Holvey of Wild Well Control.

BP hopes to have at least one of the boxes in place by the end of the week.

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