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Environment

Factbox: Developments in the Gulf of Mexico oil spill

(Reuters) - Here are some developments in BP Plc’s Gulf of Mexico oil spill, the largest in U.S. history.

TOP DEVELOPMENTS

* BP starts a crucial test on its ruptured oil well in the Gulf of Mexico that it hopes will lead to halting the flow of crude that has polluted the sea and shoreline since April.

* A BP executive says undersea robots working a mile below the ocean surface have started shutting a sequence of three valves in a capping device installed on Monday.

POLITICS/POLICY

* BP’s safety record would bar the company from getting new U.S. offshore oil and gas exploration leases for up to seven years under a bill passed by a U.S. House committee.

* The EU’s executive plans to toughen rules covering accident prevention and liability for offshore oil drilling in response to BP’s spill, Europe’s environment chief says.

* U.S. financial regulators urge banks to work with businesses in states that have been hit by the spill by temporarily waiving late fees and other charges.

* The chairman of Diamond Offshore Drilling Inc says the U.S. moratorium on deepwater oil drilling was not needed and that the industry had become far more vigilant since the April BP oil well blowout.

* Italy is considering new rules to tighten permits for offshore oil and gas exploration and production after BP’s spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the Industry Ministry Undersecretary says.

MARKET IMPACT/COMPANIES

* BP shares closed down 2.28 percent in London and closed down 1.9 percent in New York on Wednesday.

ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT

* While BP’s new containment cap may offer a chance to stanch the flow of oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico, those who live on the Louisiana coast say it is already too late.

Compiled by Alyson Zepeda in Houston; editing by Todd Eastham

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