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BP caps, plugs equipment believed to be source of recent sheen in Gulf near site of 2010 spill

BP PLC said Thursday it has capped and plugged an abandoned piece of equipment that is believed to be the source of a sheen spotted near the site of its massive 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

The London-based oil giant said it placed a 750-pound cap over an 86-ton steel container that the company had deployed in a failed effort to contain the spill. BP also inserted plugs on the top and sides of the container, which had been lowered over a leaking drill pipe in an effort to funnel oil to the surface.

BP and the Coast Guard both say no oil has been seen leaking out of the container since it was capped and plugged. The operation started Tuesday and lasted roughly 26 hours.

The sheen appeared on the Gulf's surface in September. BP plans to monitor the sheen by satellite for several more days.

The Coast Guard says it has directed BP to submit a plan for either removing remaining oil from the container or removing the container itself after the oil is removed.

U.S. Rep. Edward Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat who serves on the House Natural Resources Committee, said oil should be removed from the container along with any wreckage that was left behind on the seafloor. Markey also is asking BP to publicly release all video footage its remotely operated vehicles have recently shot near the well.

"We shouldn't have to wait for the next leak to plug another problem," Markey said in a statement.

Last week, BP said a three-day inspection confirmed that its Macondo well, which blew out and led to the nation's worst offshore oil spill, isn't leaking.

Before the container was capped, the Coast Guard said underwater video showed apparent oil globules leaking from the dome at an estimated rate of less than 100 gallons per day. The container sits on the seafloor, about 1,500 feet from the wellhead.

The Coast Guard has said the sheen is not feasible to recover and doesn't pose a risk to the shoreline.

Eleven workers were killed when the blowout triggered a deadly explosion on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig, owned by Transocean Ltd. and leased by BP. Millions of gallons of oil spewed into the Gulf before BP sealed the well.

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