BP's oil well near death, but disaster not over - KSWO 7News | Breaking News, Weather and Sports

BP's oil well near death, but disaster not over

ON THE GULF OF MEXICO - The impending death of BP's blown-out oil will bring one piece of the catastrophe that began five months ago to an anticlimactic end - after all, the gusher was capped in July.

This, though, is an important milestone for the still-weary residents of the Gulf Coast: an assurance that not so much as a trickle of oil will ever seep from the well that already has ruined so much since the catastrophe first started. The disaster began April 20, when an explosion killed 11 workers, sank a drilling rig and led to the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history.

Crews had already pumped in cement to seal the well from the bottom, and officials said Saturday it had set. Once a pressure and weight test was finished, officials expected to confirm that the well is permanently plugged. That was expected to occur late Saturday, but an announcement may not come until Sunday.

People who rely on the Gulf of Mexico and its coastline for their livelihoods, though, know the disaster is far from over. They are left to rebuild amid the businesses destroyed by once-oil-coated shorelines and fishing grounds that were tainted by crude. Even where the seafood is safe, fishermen struggle to sell it to consumers fearful that it's toxic.

News that the blown out well would soon be dead brought little comfort to people like Sheryl Lindsay, who owns Orange Beach Weddings, which provides beach ceremonies on Alabama's coast.

She said she lost about $240,000 in business because of the spill as nervous brides-to-be canceled their weddings all summer long and even into the remainder of the year. So far, she has only received about $29,000 in BP compensation.

"I'm scared that BP is going to pull out and leave us hanging with nothing," Lindsay said.

The Gulf well spewed 206 million gallons of oil until the gusher was first stopped in mid-July with a temporary cap. Mud and cement were later pushed down through the top of the well, allowing the cap to be removed. But officials will not declare it dead until it is killed from the bottom.

In Louisiana's coastal Plaquemines Parish, Guy Laigast was among three deputies setting up New Orleans Saints football garb Saturday along a fence at the sheriff's office training center, preparing for an annual employees' picnic. For him, news that the plug was nearly done meant little.

"They've still got tons of oil out there, so ..." he said, his voice trailing off. "I don't think it's going to solve all the problems. They've got a lot to go."

Librarian Donna Pobrica was working Saturday in an otherwise empty library in Belle Chasse serving as a polling place Saturday for a local election.

"I know a lot of people who have been waiting for that," she said of the well's plugging. "We've waited a long time."

Pobrica said the spill "really killed the people down the road. Oysters were the main thing down here, and now it's gone."

Many of the area's oyster beds were wiped out when officials flooded the marshes with fresh water, hoping it would help keep oil out of the delicate wetlands. Oysters thrive in salt water.

For Tom Becker, a charter fishing boat captain in Biloxi, Miss., news that the well was nearly dead is too little, too late. His business has tanked, down more than 60 percent with $36,000 in lost revenue, not to mention the business he'll lose in the future.

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