And it's about time. Over the weekend, the federal government finally deemed the Macondo 252 well, which had erupted after an explosion on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, to be "effectively dead". Can it finally, actually be true?Well, there are still a slew of concerns regarding ecosystem damage, water quality, and that thick layer of oil discovered on the bottom of the Gulf. But yes, the tests indicate that the well is finally fully plugged.
The federal government declared BP's Macondo oil well dead on Sunday, nearly five months after it blew out of control, unleashing an environmental calamity in the Gulf of Mexico. "We can finally announce that the Macondo 252 well is effectively dead," Adm. Thad W. Allen, the retired Coast Guard officer who leads the federal spill response, said in a statement. The well, he said, "poses no continuing threat to the Gulf of Mexico."The flow of oil had been halted for over a month, but BP and the fed would not declare the well dead until the relief well had been completed, and Macondo 252 sealed up with cement. And here we are.
Crews aboard the Development Driller III rig conducted a pressure test early Sunday on cement that had been pumped into the bottom of the once-gushing well through a relief well. The test confirmed that the cement formed an effective, and final, seal to prevent oil and gas from coming up from a reservoir about 13,000 feet below the seabed.
It does seem difficult to accept, even so many months after the well's initial rupture -- there have simply been so many half-truths and willful omissions over the course of the narrative of the BP spill that the cynic in me wants to remain skeptical. And a little later today I'll write about why there's still some reason to be, in a wider context.
For now, suffice to remember that 5 million barrels of oil escaped during the course of the BP spill and 2 million gallons of toxic chemical dispersants were dumped into the Gulf. It may border on cliche to say so at this point, but its no less true: we will be coping with the effects of this environmental disaster for many years to come, and its true impact may not be known until then. The well may be dead, but let's ensure that efforts to clean, restore, study, and revitalize the Gulf are anything but.