Coast Guard's Allen says containment operation improving; 630,000 gallons daily now captured

WASHINGTON (AP) — Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen says the oil spill containment operation in the Gulf of Mexico is now catching up to 630,000 gallons daily.

Assessing efforts to restrain the oil spill, Allen told reporters that "we continue to make progress," although he said reinforcement help is on the way, including the expected arrival of a shuttle tanker from the North Sea within the next few days.

He also said he hopes capacity of the existing containment structure can be increased soon to roughly 1.17 million gallons daily.

"We're only at 15 (15,000 barrels) now and we'll be at 28 (28,000 barrels) next week. We're building capacity," Allen said. "They'll probably go back at that point and put a cap back on it. At some point, there'll probably have to be a transition between a containment cap and a regular cap."

Allen also said that with temperatures rising in the stricken area, officials have concern about the safety of workers involved in the containment effort. He also said Obama administration officials are talking with BP about a longer-term containment strategy with "built-in redundancies." And he noted that he and other officials are meeting with BP later Wednesday to discuss problems with the handling of damage claims related to the April 20 accident.

(This version CORRECTS SUBS 2nd graf to restore correct 'shutter' to 'shuttle' and INSERTS new 4th paragraph with projections for increased capacity of existing containment operation. Moving on general news and financial services.)