Cap removed after sub hits vent; 2 cleanup workers die in separate events
NBC News and news services
updated 12:53 p.m. ET June 23, 2010
NEW ORLEANS - Oil was again gushing from the BP spill site on Wednesday after the company was forced to remove the containment cap when a robotic submarine hit a vent. The news came as officials also reported two deaths of people who had been hired for the response effort.
BP hoped to reinstall the cap later Wednesday after fixing the vent and checking for safety.
When the robot bumped the system, gas rose through the vent that carries warm water down to prevent ice-like crystals from forming in the cap, Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen said.
The cap was removed and crews were checking to see if crystals had formed before putting it back on. Allen did not say how long that might take.
"There's more coming up than there had been, but it's not a totally unconstrained discharge," Allen said.
In the meantime, a different system was still burning oil on the surface.
Before the problem with the containment cap, it had collected about 700,000 gallons of oil in the previous 24 hours. Another 438,000 gallons was burned.
The current worst-case estimate of what's spewing into the Gulf is about 2.5 million gallons a day. Anywhere from 67 million to 127 million gallons have spilled since the April 20 explosion on the Deepwater Horizon rig that killed 11 workers and blew out a well 5,000 feet underwater. BP PLC was leasing the rig from owner Transocean Ltd.
Gunshot death reported
The deaths reported Wednesday were not tied to the containment operation. The Coast Guard said the workers had been involved in cleanup operations but that their deaths did not appear to be work related.
One death was a boat captain who died of a gunshot wound, a Coast Guard spokesman said. Further details were not immediately available.
Earlier Wednesday, BP said that Bob Dudley was appointed to head the new Gulf Coast Restoration Organization, which is in charge of cleaning up the oil spill.
BP said that the appointment was effective immediately.
Dudley, who had been in charge of BP's operations in the Americas and Asia, will report to Chief Executive Officer Tony Hayward.
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