BP's Capped Well Holds as Waiting Period Ticks By
And just like that, the oil stopped.
The news was met with a mix of joy, skepticism and disbelief from beleaguered Gulf Coast residents. A quiet optimism started to take hold.
Richard Forester, executive director of the Mississippi Gulf Coast Convention and Visitors Bureau, said it's possible the season can be saved.
"Fortunately, we are still seeing pretty good occupancy because most people recognize we are so much more than a beach destination," Forester said. "The oil spill has had an impact on our beachfront hotels, charter operations, vendors, gift shops. Whether or not they've stopped it, there's still a lot of oil out there that's got to be cleaned up."
The Gulf Coast has been shaken economically, environmentally and psychologically by the hardships of the past three months. That feeling of being swatted around — by BP, by the government, even by fate — was evident in the wide spectrum of reactions to news of the capping.
The fishing industry in particular has been buffeted by fallout from the spill. Surveys of oyster grounds in Louisiana showed extensive deaths of the shellfish. Large sections of the Gulf Coast — which accounts for 60 to 70 percent of the oysters eaten in the United States — have been closed to harvesting.
The saga has also devastated BP, costing it billions in everything from cleanup to repair efforts to plunging stock prices. BP shares, which have lost nearly half their value since the disaster started, jumped in the last hour of Thursday trading on Wall Street after the oil stopped. But they were down again more than 3 percent Friday morning.
Long after the well is finally plugged, oil could still be washing up in marshes and on beaches as tar balls or disc-shaped patties. The sheen will dissolve over time, scientists say, and the slick will convert to another form.
There's also fear that months from now, oil could move far west to Corpus Christi, Texas, or farther east and hitch a ride on the loop current, possibly showing up as tar balls in Miami or North Carolina's Outer Banks.