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Oil gushing from the well before the containment cap  (Source: CalFinder)

New containment cap  (Source: xinhuanet)
New containment cap stopped the leak, but the job isn't finished yet

Just five days shy of three months since the oil leak started in the Gulf of Mexico on April 20, and 184 million gallons of oil spilled later, BP finally found a solution that successfully contained the oil. 

The 75-ton containment cap placed over the damaged oil well earlier this week has undergone an extensive 48-hour testing period in hopes of a successful end result. Thankfully, this method worked. For the first time since the leak erupted 85 days ago, oil has finally stopped flowing to the surface of the Gulf.

But plugging the oil well is only the beginning of resolving this environmental disaster. Now that the containment cap is placed and doing its job, engineers will begin monitoring pressure gauges making sure that there are no leaks elsewhere. The worst case scenario right now is that pressure from the oil under the containment cap could damage the well further, which would lead to oil spilling out from other areas on the sea floor. 

So the waiting game begins. Any signs of new leaks will means engineers will have to reopen the cap and let oil spill into the Gulf once again. The engineers are hoping that the well holds out for the next two days of close observation, but even if it does hold out, they have to conduct a seismic survey of the ocean floor to make sure oil isn't escaping from the well into the bedrock, and in order to conduct such a survey, engineers have to open the vents again, which releases more oil.

"For the people living on the Gulf, I'm certainly not going to guess their emotions," said Kent Wells, BP vice president. "I hope they're encouraged there's no oil going into the Gulf of Mexico. But we have to be careful. Depending on what the test shows us, we may need to open this well back up."

Those surrounding the Gulf like fisherman and restauranteurs, who have lost their jobs due to the oil leak, have shown mixed reviews on the new containment cap solution. Some are relieved while others don't trust BP enough to rest assure that this is a permanent solution. 

Others, such as Alabama Gov. Bob Riley, showed a greater sense of relief that BP has closed off the well.

"That's great," said Riley. "I think a lot of prayers were answered today."

The video feed on BP's website showed the oil cloud, which has been gushing ever since the Deepwater Horizon exploded and sank, thin and eventually fade out at 2:25 pm CDT. The containment cap in place is designed to restrict oil from entering the ocean by restraining it inside the well and also allowing ships at the surface to siphon oil from inside of it. 

The containment cap seems to be doing its job for the time being, but it is not a permanent solution to this catastrophe. BP is currently drilling two relief wells, due to be completed in mid August, which will pump cement and mud into the well with the idea of plugging it permanently. After this is accomplished, a mass clean-up, expected to take years, will take place in the Gulf.

Every little bit counts, and in this case, a huge weight has been lifted off of many shoulders today, even if it is temporary. Randall Luthi, president of the National Ocean Industries Association, which is a trade group representing the offshore oil industry, noted that "industry officials and their families are taking a big sigh," but to others, the damage has already been done and the last thing anyone should do is assume that this has been taken care of.

"I think it's a little premature to say it's definitely over," said Steve Shepard, Gulf Coast chairman of the Mississippi Chapter of the Sierra Club. "They've gotten our hopes up so many times before that in my mind I don't think it's going to be over until Christmas."



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RE: Loving Obama
By hughlle on 7/16/2010 7:40:52 AM , Rating: 5
fully agreed, the moment it was all going bad it was BP not paying enough, doing enough, the moment things start to look possbily positive it becomes "after much work money and effort we have managed blah"

jog on.


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