Weather delays final plugging of BP well

NEW ORLEANS In a conference call, retired Coast Adm. /*Thad Allen*/ said that waves were 6-8 feet tall and crews were worried about the potential risk of suspending hulking pieces of equipment from a crane underwater while the waves were rocking.

Allen said operations were expected to be pushed back 2-3 days, meaning it could be as late as Thursday before engineers begin to remove the temporary cap that stopped more oil from flowing into the sea in mid-July and the failed blowout preventer, which is a key piece of evidence in ongoing investigations.

Once the failed one is raised, a new blowout preventer will be placed atop the well. After that, the goal is to drill the final 50 feet of a relief well.

Engineers will then pump in mud and cement to permanently plug the well that gushed 206 million gallons of oil.

The final plugging of the well was expected to start after Labor Day, but Allen said Monday that will be delayed as well because of the weather.

The /*Deepwater Horizon*/ rig exploded on April 20 and sank, killing 11 workers and spewing 206 million gallons of oil from BP's undersea well. BP was operating the rig, which was owned by Transocean Ltd.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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