Deepwater Horizon

The Deepwater Horizon, April 21, 2010 (U.S. Coast Guard Photo).

It’s now official. The well at the heart of the worst oil spill in history is completely dead. Five months after the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico began, there are no more concerns of oil leaking from the Macondo 252 well.

BP spent the weekend pouring cement into the well in what they called a final kill procedure. After tests were conducted, Thad Allen, the government’s chosen man for the disaster,  was happy to report that the seal appeared to be holding and the well was pronounced dead.

The well spilled approximately 206 million gallons of oil into the Gulf before a temporary cap stopped the flow on July 15. The permanent seal was completed after a relief well was drilled into the sea floor, which allowed for the cement plug to be placed into the bottom of the well.

The disaster began with the April 20th explosion of the Deepwater Horizon, in which 11 men died. In the aftermath of the explosion, oil flowed unchecked into the gulf, resulting in uncounted damages and the loss of much sea life. Local fisherman lost business and income due to the disaster.

Many attempts to stop the flow of oil prior to the July 15th capping failed. The blowout preventer, designed to stop the flow of gas and oil through well, apparently did not work at the time of the crises. Attempts to activate the blowout preventer by remote submersibles failed. Then a ‘top-hat’ procedure, in which a device was to be attached to stop the flow, failed.  That was followed by an effort to plug the well with drilling fluid and cement, and after that, an attempt was made to pump it with debris and jam it shut. The successes and failures of this crises are sure to be studied, evaluated and debated for years.

While the permanent seal is welcome news, many are still concerned about the ongoing results of the disaster, and the impact it will continue have on the lives of coastal residents, and the environment.