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Obama Promises to Help Americans Hurt by Gulf Oil Spill

President Barack Obama gives his weekly address, 5 Jun 2010
President Barack Obama gives his weekly address, 5 Jun 2010
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U.S. President Barack Obama says he will fight alongside communities hurt by the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico until the crisis and its aftermath have been resolved.

Mr. Obama used his weekly address Saturday to outline the U.S. government's efforts to contain and clean up the millions of liters of oil that have started to damage the coast.

Mr. Obama's comments came after he traveled to the southern state of Louisiana Friday to review energy giant BP's efforts to stop the oil spewing from a well.

Mr. Obama says it appears since BP placed a cap over the well, there has been some progress in pumping oil to the surface instead of letting the crude surge into the Gulf.  

The company says it is currently able to collect about 1,000 barrels of the estimated 19,000 barrels leaking from the well each day.

Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen said BP hopes to increase the amount collected over time by gradually closing vents on the cap that are allowing oil to escape into the ocean.

But the president says the leak will not completely stop until BP has finished building relief wells. They are expected to be completed in August.

Mr. Obama says about 2,000 ships are working to clean up the spill, while more than 1,300 kilometers of barriers have been set up to protect the coast.

The U.S. president says he has authorized the deployment of 17,500 National Guard troops to help contain the oil spill.  

Mr. Obama is scheduled to meet next week with the families of 11 workers who were killed when a BP oil rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico in April.

Since then, the well has gushed thousands of barrels of crude every day.  The spill has spread throughout the Gulf, with oil covering birds and other wildlife.  The spill threatens to devastate the region's fishing industry.

The U.S. government has sent BP a $69 million bill for spill-related costs to date.

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

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