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BP’s New Illness and Injury Stats, Texas Tarballs, and More

BP's latest update on injuries and illnesses among Gulf cleanup workers shows a big rise in numbers. Meanwhile, help from another oil containment vessel is on the way.

BP appears to have updated its log of illness and injury data. We've been tracking these health reports for a while now, and hadn't seen the log updated for a couple of weeks. The latest -- from April 22 to July 4 -- extends the previous log by about two and a half weeks, but the numbers are now almost double.

The latest tally: 1,337 illnesses and injuries; 552 illnesses, 785 injuries. The previous log -- from April 22 to June 17 -- recorded 731 total; 307 illnesses, 424 injuries.

BP missed opportunities for capturing oil, one company says. That’s according to Houston-based Helix, the company providing a vessel that BP now plans to use to expand its containment capacity once the weather calms down. Helix told Bloomberg that BP could’ve done this weeks ago, before all the bad weather set in and pushed back plans.

In fact, Helix offered BP the vessel in late April and company officials declined the offer, only to get in touch almost two months later to say they did want to lease it after all.

In a press briefing yesterday, retired Adm. Thad Allen, national incident commander, said he hoped the vessel would be hooked up to the well's riser pipe in the next 24 to 48 hours -- pending calmer weather conditions -- but it wouldn't begin production before the end of the week. The vessel, once in operation, is expected to double the amount of oil that BP is currently able to contain, bringing containment capacity to 53,000 barrels a day.

More on the Obama administration's drilling moratorium: The administration is pushing back in appeals court, after a New Orleans judge blocked its six-month freeze on deepwater drilling, ruling that the moratorium was too broad. In a hearing today, the Obama administration is prepared to ask a federal appeals court to reinstate the moratorium during appeals, and while it develops new regulations. The Department of the Interior, which issued the moratorium, has also said it's working on another version to address the lower court's objections.

In a court filing, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar argued that his agency has full authority to suspend leases when there’s a threat of serious harm -- and that only when canceling the leases does it have to weigh the advantages of cancellation against the advantages of continuing the lease. For a preview of today’s hearing, read the Interior and Bureau of Ocean Energy filing in our document viewer.

Texas tarballs: Tarballs — confirmed to have been from BP’s well in the Gulf -- continued to wash up on the Texas shore on Monday, after they were first discovered over the weekend.

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