BP Oil Well Finally Plugged

After 5 months and 8 days, the nightmare that has been the gushing BP oil well in the Gulf of Mexico finally came to an end Sunday.

After 5 months and 8 days, the nightmare that has been the gushing BP oil well in the Gulf of Mexico finally came to an end Sunday when a final pressure test determined that the leak is permanently sealed.

It may be hard to believe that the initial methane bubble that came up from the well and exploded occurred on April 20, but sadly, this ecological disaster required a massive undertaking to contain. The initial explosion claimed 11 lives and wounded 17 others and set off a subsequent fire that burned for days.

Although the worst is now over, there are still many concerns. In fact, JAMA mentioned several weeks ago that those who were working closely in helping to clean up the oil should be watching out for any possible long-term illness and respiratory problems. Only time will tell the true damage to those who helped to resolve this situation.

Here are the dismal statistics from source of the largest offshore oil spill in US history:

  • Nearly 5 million gallons of oil were spilled into the Gulf Coast
  • The disaster is blamed for 5,939 birds, 584 sea turtles and more than 60 dolphins (though scientists believe this number is actually much higher given when including certain variables)
  • BP claims to have already spent $6 billion on cleanup efforts, in addition to the $20 billion it has publicly promised for an escrow fund to compensate for economic damages to the region
  • BP still faces an uncertain legal future, and could possibly several different charges for violating the Clean Water Act; fines could be as high as $17.5 billion

This tragedy not only took the lives of 11 people and devastated an entire ecological system; it also directly impacted the economy of a large region and created several medical risks for anyone in proximity to the spill. Expect more information to surface in the coming months regarding the health of those involved with this cleanup. We can only hope that this terrible accident was a learning experience and that the proper processes and guidelines will be put in place to ensure that nothing like this ever happens again.