NEW ORLEANS – NEW ORLEANS -- Depending on the results of an overnight pressure test, government officials were expected to announce Sunday that the blown-out BP well in the Gulf of Mexico was dead, five months after an explosion killed 11 workers, sank a drilling rig and led to the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history.
The pressure test was set to be finished early Sunday, the last step needed before the runaway well could finally be declared dead.
The test involves engineers exerting 15,000 pounds of weight against the cement plug to make sure it won't budge. They also will exert 1,150 pounds per square inch of pressure.
Sealing the well is an important step for the still-weary Gulf Coast residents, yet the disaster is far from over. Those who rely on the Gulf for their livelihoods are left to rebuild amid the businesses destroyed by once-oil-stained shorelines and fishing grounds. 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 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.
The tragedy 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.