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BP says it has choked off all oil from busted well

July 15, 2010

By COLLEEN LONG and HARRY R. WEBER, Associated Press Writers Colleen Long And Harry R. Weber, Associated Press Writers 8 mins ago

NEW ORLEANS – Oil stopped gushing into the Gulf of Mexico from BP’s busted well Thursday for the first time since the disastrous spill began, the oil giant said. It was the most significant milestone yet in BP’s effort to control one of the worst environmental disasters in U.S. history.

Now begins a waiting period to see if the cap can hold the oil without blowing a new leak in the well. Engineers will monitor pressure readings incrementally for up to 48 hours before reopening the cap while they decide what to do next. The cap is only planned as a temporary fix until a final plug is set from underground, maybe next month.

The news elicited joy mixed with skepticism from Gulf Coast residents wearied by months of false starts, setbacks and failures. Alabama Gov. Bob Riley’s face lit up when he heard the oil flow had stopped.

“That’s great. I think a lot of prayers were answered today,” said Riley.

The stoppage came 85 days, 16 hours and 25 minutes after the first report April 20 of an explosion on the BP-leased Deepwater Horizon oil rig that killed 11 workers and triggered the spill.

“Finally!” said Renee Brown, a 35-year-old middle school guidance counselor visiting Pensacola Beach, Fla., from London, Ky.”Honestly, I’m surprised that they haven’t been able to do something sooner, though.”

Video images, which for months had featured a billowing brown cloud violently fouling the Gulf, showed a remarkably different picture: A quiet, still well. Shortly after it coughed its last bit of oil and the last opening was squeezed shut, it quieted, with only tiny bubbles floating past the stack.

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