BP spill could reach Atlantic Coast

Last updated 16:03 04/06/2010

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Oil from the BP spill in the Gulf of Mexico could float around Florida and up the United States East Coast as far as North Carolina, the National Center for Atmospheric Research says.

Citing computer models, scientists at the federally-funded centre said in a statement that the oil could reach Florida's Atlantic Coast within weeks and could move as far north as Cape Hatteras, North Carolina.

Meanwhile BP has today placed a containment cap atop the damaged undersea well that has been gushing oil into the Gulf of Mexico since April, the US Coast Guard said in a statement.

"The placement of the containment cap is another positive development in BP's most recent attempt to contain the leak. However, it will be some time before we can confirm that this method will work and to what extent it will mitigate the release of oil into the environment," Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen said in the statement, according to CNN.

"Even if successful, this is only a temporary and partial fix and we must continue our aggressive response, operations at the source, on the surface and along the Gulf's precious coastline," he added, according to CNN.

Earlier, live television pictures showed the cylindrical device being placed on top of the crippled wellhead assembly as oil and gas continued to billow up.

It comes as US President Barack Obama postponed his trip to Australia and Indonesia for a second time, as the Gulf of Mexico oil spill  disaster has overwhelmed his domestic and international political agenda.

The National Center for Atmospheric Research said in its statement it was not possible to accurately predict where the oil will be weeks or months from now. However, the computer simulations of the oil's movement "provide an envelope of possible scenarios for the oil dispersal."

"I've had a lot of people ask me, 'Will the oil reach Florida?'" NCAR scientist Synte Peacock said in the statement. "Actually, our best knowledge says the scope of this environmental disaster is likely to reach far beyond Florida, with impacts that have yet to be understood."

Where and when the oil will move depends on regional weather conditions and the Gulf of Mexico's Loop Current, the statement said.

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- Reuters

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