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A work boat operates near the Helix Producer in the area of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on the Gulf of Mexico in July. Dave Martin/AP/Press Association Images
Gulf Spill

BP leak ready to be sealed permanently

After five months, the leak into the Gulf of Mexico could at last stop today.

BP SAYS THE ruptured Macondo well could be sealed for good today, after a five-month leak which spewed millions of gallons of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico.

The head of the US government’s response effort, Retired Coast Guard Adm. Thad W. Allen, said that “the well presents no further threat of discharge.”

Yesterday BP plugged the empty space between the pipe and the wall of the shaft in the well with cement- a process known as a ‘bottom kill’.

Allen continued, saying that he thinks that the ‘bottom kill’ will be a mental boost to the surrounding population. He said the intent is “psychologically, for people in the gulf to understand that there is a stake in the heart of this beast.”

The Macondo well resisted all attempts to plug it for three months- spilling 4.9 million barrels of oil into the Gulf.  On 15 July, the well was sealed off and a rig began drilling down in an attempt to ‘bottom kill’.

On Thursday afternoon the drill reached its target. “This determination was made,” said Allen, “based on a loss of drilling fluids that indicated communication had been established beyond the relief well, the pressure exerted against the drill bit as it came in contact with the well casing and, finally, an increase in pressure in the choke line of the Macondo well blowout preventer.”

BP had earlier estimated that it could take four days for the cement to set, but it should be set by this afternoon according to a spokesperson for the company.

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