BP starts using cement to finish up 'static kill'

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NEW ORLEANS – BP pumped cement into its blown-out oil well in the Gulf of Mexico on Thursday, hoping to start sealing it for good a day after it forced a slow torrent of heavy mud down the broken wellhead and pushed the crude back to its underground source.

The next step in the so-called "static kill" was another bright spot as the tide appeared to be turning in the months-long battle to contain the oil, with a federal report this week indicating that only about a quarter of the spilled crude remains in the Gulf and is degrading quickly.

Even so, Joey Yerkes, a 43-year-old fisherman in Destin, Fla., said he and other boaters, swimmers and scuba divers continue to find oil and tar balls in areas that have been declared clear.

"The end to the leak is good news, but the damage has been done," Yerkes said.

If the mud plug in the blown-out well is successfully augmented with the cement, the next step involves an 18,000-foot relief well that intersects with the old well just above the vast undersea reservoir that had been losing oil freely since the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded off Louisiana on April 20, killing 11 workers.

(Source: AP)

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