April 20th 2010 marked a day that will not soon be forgotten. The Deepwater Horizon exploded and sank, kicking off one of the biggest environmental disasters we've ever seen. After a series of failed and sometimes ridiculous attempts, BP lowered a containment cap onto the ruptured well. Eighty-six days (with anywhere between 93.5 million and 184.3 million gallons spilled) have passed, and now BP has finally succeeded in choking off the flow of oil puking into the Gulf.
While the containment cap BP lowered into place is still in testing stages, any good news from the oil soaked region is a breath of fresh air. At the White House, President Obama reacted to the news, saying, “I think it’s a positive sign. We’re still in the testing phase. I’ll have more to say on it tomorrow.”
BP lowered the cap into place on Monday, saying that they would slowly shut off the flow, measuring the pressure along the way. High pressure measurements would be a good thing, meaning that there are no other leaks. At 11:30 this morning, engineers slowly eased the flow of oil to the kill line and shut the final choke line at 2:25 pm. BP exec Kent Wells called it a "critical milestone", but stressed that success is not guaranteed. The tests on the well will last anywhere from six to 48 hours, and the longer the better. Longer waiting periods mean more pressure building up in the well, which means no other leaks. Drilling on the relief wells has been suspended during testing, but at last measurement, the drill bit was a mere four feet away from the side of the well and only 150 feet from the target depth.
As the world collectively holds its breath for the next 48 hours, the end of this catastrophe looms closer on the horizon.
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April 20th 9:45 p.m. – High pressure methane gas shoots up the Deepwater Horizon's drill column, spews onto the platform, and explodes. Fire breaks out, killing eleven people. The rig sinks, destroying the drilling riser running from the wellhead, and initiates one of the biggest man-made disasters in history.
April 21- July 11 – Amidst serious skepticism from the general public, BP tries and fails with numerous capping tactics. Images from the Gulf of Mexico scorch the eyes of the public, causing one of the greatest public volunteer turnouts ever.
July 11– BP lowers a 75 ton cap over the busted well, with BP Chief Operating Officer Doug Suttles saying “we’re going to get this thing stopped as fast as we can. If it is not in the next couple of days with the test, we’ll do it with the relief wells.”
July 15th 2:25 p.m. – Oil flow into the Gulf of Mexico stops completely for the first time in 85 days, 16 hours and 25 minutes.