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from msnbc.com

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BP will soon start the testing process on the cap it’s put on top of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill now that a leak in a seal has been fixed, officials said Thursday.

“We are ready” to begin, National Incident Commander Thad Allen told reporters at 11 a.m. ET. He did not provide an exact time, however.

Kent Wells, a senior vice president in the company, said earlier Thursday that the test could start once several steps were taken — including checking the seals on the equipment and moving robotic submersibles back into proper position.

The work was interrupted after a leak was discovered late Wednesday in a seal between the cap and a vent to funnel oil up to a ship if necessary.

The cap is a stopgap measure designed to keep the oil in the well or funnel it to ships until the relief well is done. It is considered the best hope yet of stopping the crude from streaming into the water for the first time since the April 20 explosion on the Deepwater Horizon rig that killed 11 people.

The process of activating the new cap began with BP shutting off pipes that were funneling some of the oil to ships on the surface so the full force of the gusher went up into the new cap.

Then deep-sea robots began slowly closing, one at a time, three openings in the cap that let oil pass through. Ultimately, officials hope to block the flow of crude entirely.

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