Nearly four months after the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico the struggle against the BP oil spill is nearly finished, in one sense. BP’s ruptured well is no longer leaking. In fact, it hasn’t leaked since July 15th.
With the well capped from the top, BP is now moving in for the final bottom kill– completion of a relief well that should seal the problem for good. On Monday administration officials announced that sometime late this week the teams drilling the relief well should be in position to penetrate the original Macondo well shaft.
President Obama even stated, “What is clear is that the battle to stop oil from flowing into the Gulf is just about over.” But the war against the BP spill, the worst environmental disaster in US history, will continue. The struggle to clean up the mess and restore the livelihoods of tens of thousands of people in the Gulf region has just begun. The next step in the cleanup process is to focus on the areas ashore that have been impacted.
If its part, BP announced Monday that it had made an initial deposit of $3 billion into a planned $20 billion spill recovery fund. Another $2 billion will be added in the fourth quarter of this year said BP officials. After that, the firm will add another #1.25 billion every quarter until the $20 billion limit is reached (for more information on the BP budged, check out BP news).
With the source of the leak almost controlled, the areas onshore are being looked at. There are still tarballs washing up on beaches in Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida. Teams are also working in the fragile marsh areas that extend from the eastern end of Mississippi Sound around to Timbalier Bay and Terrebonne and areas to the west. This is where the largest areas of oiled marshes.
The government estimates that 4.9 million barrels of oil flowed into the Gulf as a result of the BP spill. Much of that has been burned off, skimmed up, or has evaporated, although the exact amount remains a contentious issue. But the US estimates that about one-quarter of the oil spill total remains a threat to shore.