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News Wrap: Oil Containment Cap Removal a Setback for Gulf Effort

June 23, 2010 at 12:00 AM EST
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HARI SREENIVASAN: BP ran into new trouble today with that damaged well in the Gulf of Mexico. An accident forced crews to remove the cap that’s been collecting the crude.

“NewsHour” correspondent Kwame Holman reports.

KWAME HOLMAN: Apparently, the trouble began when a robot submarine like this one bumped a vent on the well containment system. It carries warm water to prevent icy crystals from forming in the machinery.

In Washington, Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen said, shortly after that, crews spotted trouble.

ADMIRAL THAD ALLEN, national incident commander: The Discoverer Enterprise removed a containment cap with the riser pipe and moved away until they could assess the condition.

KWAME HOLMAN: Removing the cap allowed oil to gush freely into the Gulf again. The system had collected 700,000 in gallons in the previous 24 hours.

The news came amid reports that pools of heavy oil hit miles of Pensacola Beach in Florida overnight, and there was more on that federal judge’s ruling that a six-month moratorium on deepwater drilling went too far. At a Senate hearing, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said the Obama administration still plans to appeal, but he said he will issue a new order to address the judge’s concern.

KEN SALAZAR, U.S. interior secretary: It is important that this moratoria — moratorium stay in place until we can assure that deepwater drilling can be done in a safe way.

KWAME HOLMAN: And House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland wrote to the president seeking a summit with East Coast governors and local officials. He cited fears that oil from the Gulf spill eventually could reach the Atlantic Ocean and move north.

HARI SREENIVASAN: The Federal Reserve will hold interest rates at record lows. Policy-makers at the Central Bank pledged today to keep them there for an extended period. They cited concerns about the effects of Europe’s debt crisis.

The Fed statement on Europe undercut any momentum on Wall Street. The Dow Jones industrial average gained just under five points to close at 10298. The Nasdaq fell seven points to close at 2254.

The crews fighting a huge wildfire in Arizona reported some progress today. The blaze near Flagstaff was at least 20 percent contained after scorching 22 square miles. About 1,000 people were allowed to return to their homes.

In Jamaica, police appealed for calm after seizing a reputed drug lord. Christopher “Dudus” Coke is wanted in the U.S. Last month, fighting between his supporters and security forces killed 76 people. Coke had been a fugitive ever since. A preacher said he had arranged for Coke to surrender to U.S. marshals yesterday, when police caught him.

The U.S. soccer team advanced in the World Cup today with a stunning finish. Landon Donovan scored a late goal with time running out to beat Algeria 1-0. The scoreless tie would have been sent the American team packing. It was the first U.S. victory in World Cup play in eight years.

Those are some of the day’s major stories — now back to Gwen.