BP Oil Disaster: Containment Cap Reattached; Two Involved in Clean-Up Die, One a Suicide

Two people involved in oil cleanup die, including a charter captain's suicide.

June 23, 2010, 12:38 PM

June 23, 2010 — -- BP says it has reattached the containment cap that was knocked off the Gulf oil leak in a submarine accident earlier Wednesday.

Oil from the BP spill disaster had been spewing again into the Gulf of Mexico at nearly full force after a venting system connected to the so-called containment cap over the blown-out wellhead was damaged in an accident with a robot sub, said Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, the commander in charge of the government's effort to control the 65-day-old spill.

The cap "was successfully reinstalled on the Deepwater Horizon's failed blow-out preventer" at 6:30 p.m. local time, BP said in a statement, adding that "the system resumed collecting oil and gas" a half hour later.

Separately, Allen said two people tied to the clean-up died over the past day in the Gulf region. One of the deaths was of a charter boat captain who apparently committed suicide, depressed as his business suffered after the blowout, ABC News has confirmed.

William Kruse, 55, a charter boat captain recently hired by BP as a vessel of opportunity out of Gulf Shores, Ala., died Wednesday morning of a gunshot to the head, likely self-inflicted, according to Stan Vinson, the local coroner.

Vinson said Kruse had apparently been despondent after the spill spread and ruined his business. Gulf Shores police were investigating.

The other death "was an accident regarding a swimming pool, a swimming event," Allen said.

The two deaths were the first related to the accident since 11 workers died on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig in April.

Allen said the remote-controlled sub bumped into the venting system connected to the containment cap. That sent gas rising through the plumbing that sends warm water down to the cap to prevent solid crystals -- known as hydrates -- from forming in the cap.

Before today's mishap, Allen said the apparatus had collected about 700,000 gallons of oil in the previous 24 hours. Another 438,000 gallons were burned.

As many as 14 controlled fires are being conducted every day, and they've already burned 125,000 barrels that otherwise would have drifted toward shore. At the site of the accident, two tankers have been collecting oil siphoned up from the containment cap. And huge ocean skimmers, the largest of their kind, have been scooping up 8,000 barrels of oil per day.

The current worst-case estimate of what's spewing into the Gulf is about 2.5 million gallons a day.

New Setback in Effort to Contol BP Oil Spill

The containment cap has been in place over the well since early June about 50 miles south of the Louisiana coast. It had been channeling more than 16,000 barrels per day to a surface vessel. Anywhere from 67 million to 127 million gallons have spilled since the April 20 explosion on the Deepwater Horizon.

Images from NASA satellites and surveys by NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, show that the oil slick has spread over much of the northern Gulf of Mexico, but has not greatly expanded since the first weeks after the Deepwater Horizon sank. Oil has been reported in the wetlands of the Mississippi delta at the southern tip of Louisiana, and tarballs have been found on the beaches of southern Mississippi, Alabama and the Florida panhandle.

Louisiana's Gov. Bobby Jindal has been pushing for artificial barrier islands to be built just beyond the delicate marshes along the shoreline, and work has been under way. But Tuesday night it was stopped because federal officials told the state it needed more complete safety certification.

Jindal said it was just another case of red tape.

"Don't stop the work here," he said. "Every day they wait, oil comes to our wetlands."

ABC News' Sharyn Alfonsi and Zunaira Zaki, and ABC News Radio and The Associated Press, contributed to this report.

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