WASHINGTON Workers removed the "top hat" device collecting crude oil from BP's gushing Deepwater Horizon well Wednesday morning in a major setback to efforts to contain the leak.
Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, the Obama administration's point man on the BP oil leak, told reporters in his daily briefing that the long term impact of the decision was uncertain, but video from the leak showed crude gushing unhindered into the water for the first time since the "top hat" device, also referred to as the Lower Marine Riser Package, was set in place June 3.
It was unclear how soon the top hat might be put back in place, Allen said. He said he had only learned of the problem as he was headed to the Coast Guard headquarters briefing room in Washington. A BP press statement later said the incident had occured at 8:45 a.m. Central time.
BP called the measure temporary, but provided no information on when the device might be reinstalled.