The current containment system is catching 630,000 gallons of oil daily, Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen said at a news briefing in Washington. Officials had previously cited that figure as the system's general capacity, but Allen said officials now believe it can handle 756,000 gallons.
Even so, there's still more oil eluding capture. BP is bringing in a second vessel that will increase capacity, as well as the North Sea shuttle tanker, which will assist in the transport of the oil, and a device that will burn off some of it. The company previously said it plans to switch out the current containment cap with a slightly larger one that will seal better and trap more oil.
The government is also keeping an eye on how BP is reimbursing people for their losses. Allen has written to BP CEO Tony Hayward demanding "more detail and openness" about how the company is handling mounting damage claims, reminding the beleaguered executive that his company "is accountable to the American public for the economic loss caused by the oil spill."
BP's stock price plunged Wednesday as jittery investors feared the economic toll of the crisis would eat away at the company's robust dividend. And Allen has noted that "working claims is not something that's part of BP's organizational competence."
- A sheriff in suburban New Orleans has asked federal authorities to investigate reports that illegal immigrants are working on the Gulf oil spill cleanup effort.
- The team studying how much oil is gushing out of the leak at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico may present new findings as early as Thursday.
- The Obama administration is standing firm on the six-month moratorium it's imposed on deep-water drilling for oil. But some senators are voicing concern over the impact that will have on areas in which the economy is dependent on energy exploration.
- Professor Peter Lutz is listed in BP's 2009 response plan for a Gulf of Mexico oil spill as a national wildlife expert. He died in 2005. The names and phone numbers of several Texas A&M University marine life specialists are wrong. So are the numbers for marine mammal stranding network offices in Louisiana and Florida, which are no longer in service.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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