GULF OF MEXICO, USA (WBRC) - Workers are set to begin moving a giant containment dome over the oil well in the Gulf of Mexico Thursday.
The 100-ton containment vessel was designed to collect as much as 85 percent of the oil spewing into the water and funnel it up to a tanker. The process could take several hours to lower it into place.
The whole structure could be operating by Sunday.
Meanwhile, the spill has already reached the mouth of the Mississippi River.
Officials forecasted that over the next 72 hours, the slick could reach the Barrier Islands.
Raycom News Network reporter Dennis Washington began his journey in Mobile, Alabama, where a Coast Guard H-C 122 airplane took him to the Gulf. They flew for about 20 minutes before they saw the first signs of oil near the Chandeleur Islands of Louisiana.
The oil thickened as they traveled further south, and after the rear door of the plane was opened, they could smell it.
Minutes later, they arrived at ground zero where the rig was. The rig was still spilling out oil. It was black.
Sitting on a barge was the cofferdam, which arrived overnight. A crane was nearby which would be used later in the day to pick up the 70-ton steel funnel and lower it to sea floor.
Not far away was a new oil rig, brought in over the weekend to drill a new well in the next two to three months that will permanently seal the well.
they circled a few times, then headed back north to Mobile. On the way back, the Sector Commander for the US Coast Guard in Mobile explained why this oil spill was so different from other spills in the past.
"The oil has to travel a long distance. As it travels that long distance it weathers, it evaporates. Some of the more toxic properties evaporate out of it, so we expect when it comes ashore, it's going to have lower toxicity. It doesn't mean you should pick it up and eat it, but it's going to have lower toxicity for human health," said Captain Steve Poulin.