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BP well 'to be sealed by Sunday'

The US government’s incident commander for the Gulf of Mexico oil spill has said that BP’s blown-out well is expected to be permanently sealed and declared dead by Sunday, nearly five months after a rig explosion set off the disaster.

National Incident Commander Thad Allen told reporters gathered at a seafood distributor in Kenner, Louisiana, that a relief well is expected to intersect with the blown-out well within 24 hours.

He said mud and cement will then be pumped in, which is expected to seal the blown-out well within four days.

“We are within a 96-hour window of killing the well,” Allen said.

The 20 April explosion killed 11 workers and led to 206 million gallons of oil spewing from the undersea well.

Appearing with Allen, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration chief Jane Lubchenco said monitoring continues of oil that remains in the Gulf.

Lubchenco stood by earlier government estimates that 50% of the oil that spilled is gone from the water system.

Scientists said earlier this week that they had found thick patches of oil coating the sea floor, raising questions about government conclusions that much of the oil from the spill was gone.

Testing is under way this week for chemical fingerprints that would conclusively link that oil to the BP spill.

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