Oil Spill Update: If the Cap Holds, What Happens Next?
If the cap continues to hold, what will happen next is uncertain.
|BP and the government could decide to allow the oil to flow again and try to collect all of it; they could allow the oil to flow and, if tests show the well can withstand the pressure from the cap, close the well during hurricanes; or they could leave the well closed permanently. The last option seems unlikely, but whatever the decision, the cap is an interim measure until a relief well can plug the leak for good.|
Retired Coast Guard admiral Thad Allen, who is coordinating the oil spill response, said in a release that the cap will likely only be closed during bad weather:
|“We’re encouraged by this development, but this isn’t over. Over the next several hours we will continue to collect data and work with the federal science team to analyze this information and perform additional seismic mapping runs in the hopes of gaining a better understanding on the condition of the well bore and options for temporary shut in of the well during a hurricane. It remains likely that we will return to the containment process using this new stacking cap connected to the risers to attempt to collect up to 80,000 barrels of oil per day until the relief well is completed.”|
So there are optimistic signs. But millions of gallons of crude remain in Gulf waters, shores, and marshes. And even once the oil stops flowing, there will still be months or years of cleanup and recovery.
After all the violence and destruction to human lives and livelihoods, the environment, and wildlife , it seems like the offshore prospect that Deepwater Horizon tapped into was aptly christened: Macondo, after the cursed town in Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude. Still, with tireless efforts from volunteers, conservation groups and wildlife experts, hopefully the disaster won't live up to its name.