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Workboats operate at the site of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill Drilling rigs and workboats operating at the oil site in the Gulf of Mexico may have to leave if storms reach the Gulf this week-end. (Photo: Dave Martin/AP Images)

Steady Progress in the Gulf

Hopes are high, even as storms threaten

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After more than three months of uncertainty, experts are seeing progress in the Gulf of Mexico. If all goes as expected, the gushing oil could be stopped sometime in August.

For the past several days, there were concerns about leakage from the 80-ton cap on the well. The cap is critical for keeping the well plugged. However, repeated testing of the seepage has convinced scientists that the well is not going to collapse. The cap is so effective, BP has cut the number of boats that are collecting oil in the waters off the coasts of Alabama, Mississippi, and Florida by 600.

"We continue to be pleased with the progress," said Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen.

A relief tunnel should also contribute to halting the gushing for good. Crews will use the relief tunnel to pump mud and cement into the hole a mile underwater. Then oil won’t be able to spill from the damaged well. This could take from five days to two weeks.

Even with the progress, though, challenges remain. Tropical rainstorms that are developing in the Caribbean could force the effort to come to a halt. If the storms reach the Gulf this weekend, ship crews and personnel will have to leave the area, further delaying progress.

TRACKING THE OIL-SPILL DISASTER

Scholastic News Online has been tracking the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Click here for a collection of news stories, video, a kids' poll, and other resources to help kids understand this environmental disaster.

 

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