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US Coast Guard: Containment Dome Arrives at Massive Oil Spill Site

A ship carrying a massive containment dome has arrived at the site of a damaged oil well in the Gulf of Mexico, where it is hoped the contraption can help contain a massive spill.

A U.S. Coast Guard spokesman, Petty Officer Brandon Blackwell, told VOA the containment chamber arrived early Thursday. He said Oil Company BP hopes to begin moving the chamber in place over the next 48 hours.

The plan is to lower the 98-ton structure over the main leak in the well, more than 1,500 meters below the surface. The chamber is designed to act as a funnel, channeling the oil toward a ship on the surface.

BP is hoping the dome will begin trapping oil by Monday. But the company says it cannot guarantee the success of the unprecedented effort.

Blackwell says conditions were calm on the Gulf early Thursday, and no new reports of oil reaching the coast had yet been confirmed.

On Wednesday, BP covered a smaller leak from the damaged well. The well is leaking hundreds of thousands of liters of oil a day.

BP says efforts to cap the oil flow include construction of a relief well that could take about three months to drill. BP also says it has made $25 million block grants to each of the states of Alabama, Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi to respond to the disaster.

Emergency crews welcomed a break in the weather to resume plans for burning small pools of oil on the surface of the water. BP's chief operating officer, Doug Suttles, says the burns can take place as long as wind and wave conditions are light.

The U.S. Coast Guard says the exact size of the spill is hard to determine because it is constantly shifting.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and AFP.