Oil Leak Stopped
BP just announced that oil has stopped leaking from it’s well into the Gulf of Mexico on day 86 of the environmental disaster.
Officials have been testing a cap to temporarily halt the leak. It was put in place Monday with its valves left open. Government officials were afraid the build up of pressure from closing the valves could cause additional leaks. After further analysis BP engineers were given the okay to close the valves. Wednesday night a leak was detected before testing of the new cap could begin. As of Thursday morning, the minor leak was repaired. As of Thursday afternoon, the gushing major leak has been plugged.
Work on a permanent fix, relief wells that will plug the spill from below with mud and cement, will resume. The relief well’s timeframe has always been hazy, with company and federal officials giving estimates ranging from the end of July to the middle of August before it can be completed.
If the newly placed cap holds, if the sea floor doesn’t crack and if the relief wells being prepared are completed successfully, this could be the beginning of the end for the spill. But that’s a lot of ifs, and no one was declaring any sort of victory beyond the moment.
The oil stopped flowing at 3:25 p.m. EDT when the last of three valves in the 75-ton cap was slowly throttled shut. That set off a 48-hour watch period in which — much like the hours immediately after a surgery — the patient was in stable, guarded condition and being watched closely for complications.
“It’s a great sight,” said BP Chief Operating Officer Doug Suttles, who immediately urged caution. The flow, he said, could resume. “It’s far from the finish line. … It’s not the time to celebrate.”