BP has begun phase two of its ‘static kill’ procedure to plug the Gulf of Mexico oil leak for good.
After injecting heavy mud to stem the flow of crude, it is now pumping cement into the ruptured gusher.
It comes as a federal report said only around a quarter of the oil spilled remains in the Gulf.
¨The conclusions, key conclusions of this report, is that the vast majority of the oil has either evaporated or been burned, skimmed and recovered from the wellhead or dispersed. And much of the dispersed oil is in the process of relatively rapid degradation,” Jane Lubchenco, head of the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, told reporters at a news conference.
Yet the remaining oil is still nearly five times the size of the Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska in 1989.
And its full impact remains to be seen.
“The long term effects on aquatic life are still significantly unknown. BP has used over 1.8 million gallons of dispersant, a volume never before used in the United States,” said Dr Paul Anastas of the US Environmental Protection Agency.
Fears over the possible effects of that dispersent on sealife remain as well as worries over the lasting impact of the oil-slick itself on the eco-system. The battle to contain the leak may be nearly over but difficult days still lie ahead for the Gulf of Mexico.