Thank heavens, this part of the mess is over. But reports from the Gulf seem to indicate BP's abandoned cleanup efforts:
BP Plc started pumping cement into the top of its crippled Gulf of Mexico well, moving closer to permanently plugging the source of the world’s biggest accidental offshore oil spill on record.
“We’ll create a significant milestone and make a major step forward, probably by tomorrow when the cementing is done,” National Incident Commander Thad Allen told reporters today in Washington. “We can all breathe a little easier regarding the potential that we have oil in the Gulf ever again.”
BP pumped mud into the top of its Macondo well earlier this week, pushing back the flow of oil and gas and making the cementing possible. The cement will cure in 24 to 36 hours, and then the company will resume drilling a relief well that aims to permanently plug Macondo from below.
BP temporarily sealed the well on July 15 through a valve stack placed atop Macondo, stopping a leak that spewed 4.9 million barrels of crude since an April 20 drilling-rig explosion, according to a government estimate. The relief well near Macondo will take at least five days to finish drilling its final 100 feet (30 meters).
By filling the well from top to bottom, pushing cement into the oil and gas reservoir, London-based BP will eliminate any possibility of a leak, Allen said. The well is located about 40 miles (64 kilometers) off the Louisiana coast.