BP Stops Leak, But The Gulf Crisis Isn't Over

by Bradford Plumer | July 15, 2010

This is welcome news if it holds up: "BP says oil has stopped leaking into the Gulf for the first time since April. BP has been slowly dialing down the flow as part of a test on a new cap. Engineers are now monitoring the pressure to see if the busted well holds." Here's hoping it does.

Still, the Macondo site won't be fully and permanently plugged until BP finishes drilling a relief well. Kate Sheppard has a great piece today about some of the challenges involved there, including this useful warning: "A relief well drilled to quell last year's Montara blowout off the coast of Australia took five tries before it succeeded—with an average of one week between them." Now, BP claims it can bottle up the well once and for all by July 29, though do note that just happens to be the date of BP's second-quarter shareholder meeting.

And this doesn't mean the oil-spill disaster is over. There's a lot of crude bobbing along in the Gulf right now: Scientists estimate that between 92 million and 182 million gallons have gushed out into the ocean since the Deepwater Horizon platform first blew up back in April. BP is still using dispersants to break up the oil and send it down to the sea floor, even though no one quite knows how the chemicals might affect marine life in the area. And note that oil's still washing ashore, and Bobby Jindal's artificial "barrier islands," which were supposed to protect Louisiana, are now crumbling.

P.S. On a lighter, more random note, The Christian Science Monitor reports that the containment cap BP is using to plug the leak may have been dreamed up by an anonymous plumber, who passed along some sketches to UC Berkeley's Robert Bea, who in turn passed them along to the Coast Guard.

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