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Interior Secretary Salazar slams BP for missing deadlines on sealing oil well

By Reuters
Monday, May 24, 2010; A09

HOUSTON -- Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said Sunday that "I am angry and I am frustrated" that BP has not been able to seal its blown-out oil well in the Gulf of Mexico.

"We are 33 days into this effort, and deadline after deadline has been missed," he told reporters after visiting BP's U.S. headquarters in Houston. "If we find they're not doing what they're supposed to be doing, we'll push them out of the way appropriately."

Coast Guard Adm. Thad W. Allen, who is leading the federal response to the spill, acknowledged Sunday that the government is being forced to rely on BP and the private oil sector to try to plug the gusher. At the same time, BP said the containment method it was attempting on the seafloor was capturing much less of the leaking oil than three days ago.

BP has deployed a long suction tube to the larger of two leaks from the well, but a BP spokesman said Sunday that this captured only 1,360 barrels of oil over the 24 hours to midnight Saturday. The flow has been declining from the 5,000 barrels (210,000 gallons) per day the company had said the tube was siphoning three days ago.

BP engineers are now preparing a "top kill," pumping heavy fluids into the well to try to shut it off, an operation to begin late Tuesday or early Wednesday, its managing director, Bob Dudley, told CNN.

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