Sunday, September 19, 2010
U.S. officials say BP oil well in Gulf of Mexico has finally been plugged
Finally, there's some good news from the Gulf of Mexico. After a nearly five-month nightmare of uncertainty, the U.S. Interior Department has confirmed that the BP oil well that spewed millions of gallons of crude oil into coastal waters has been permanently plugged, according to the Cable News Network (CNN). The largest oil spill in U.S. history devastated one of the richest fishing and tourism regions in the United States, and years of even more uncertainty remain over whether Gulf wildlife and the area's fishing industry will ever recover. "We can finally announce that the Macondo 252 well is effectively dead," said former Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, who is overseeing the U.S. response to the disaster. The spill began April 20 with an explosion on the BP-leased oil rig Deepwater Horizon that killed 11 workers. BP, the international oil company formerly known as British Petroleum, has agreed to pay the costs of capping the well, cleaning up the environment and compensating the thousands of people and businesses whose livelihood depended on the Gulf. BP put up $20 billion to compensate individuals and companies in the region at the request of U.S. officials, but the final cost of the spill and resulting damage has been estimated at $32 billion. Of course, the economic cost of the disaster is not the only cost to the United States. The spill exposed gaping holes in U.S. regulation of offshore drilling, the effects of which will likely reverberate in the industry for decades. Investigations into the cause of the disaster and the federal government's response are ongoing by members of Congress and at least two U.S. agencies, and lawsuits seeking damages are likely to be in court for years.