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BP oil spill: How much has bad weather hurt the cleanup?

A week of high winds and waves has interfered with some efforts to contain and clean up the BP oil spill. But key activities have continued with little interruption from bad weather.

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What's foiled by the weather

Skimming operations. The US Coast Guard is waiting for winds and waves to subside before sending out a small flotilla of vessels to scoop oil out of waters off Alabama, Mississippi, and Florida.

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“They’re docked and ready, but safety is a huge concern for us, especially with the smaller vessels,” Courtnee Ferguson, a spokeswoman for the Joint Information Command in Mobile, Ala., told the Associated Press on Monday.

A Whale's deployment. The “super-skimmer” A Whale, a Taiwanese vessel reportedly able to suck up vast amounts of oil-contaminated seawater and separate the oil from the water, has not been able to show its effectiveness because of heavy seas. Initial test results on its abilities came in Monday as “inconclusive,” meaning the A Whale does not yet have a contract to help with the cleanup.

The shipping firm that owns the vessel, TMT, had hoped to test a system of containment boom that is supposed to channel oily water into the ship’s intake vents, company spokesman Bob Grahtham told AP. Testing will continue.

New oil-collection capacity. Plans to roughly double the amount of oil collected from the wellhead – to about 53,000 barrels of oil a day – have been delayed by the weather. The vessel the Helix Producer is on scene and ready to connect with the leaking well by a flexible hose that has been attached to the blowout preventer on the ocean floor. Originally, officials had hoped to have the Helix Producer in place in late June.

Coast Guard officials told AP Monday that the Helix Producer may be connected to the well and collecting oil by July 7 ... weather permitting.

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