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Sunset over the Deepwater Horizon oil rig. The sun sets over oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico. (Saul Loeb / AFP / Getty Images / NewsCom)

Oil Leak Sealed for Good

Drillers drop cement plug on the worst oil spill in U.S. history

By Zach Jones | September 21 , 2010
<br />(Map by Jim McMahon)

(Map by Jim McMahon)

Late last week, the leaking oil well that poured oil into the Gulf of Mexico for five months was finally permanently closed.

The well was sealed in August, but engineers still had to find a way to release pressure from inside to prevent future leaks. So drillers first made a hole in the seal to release that pressure, then filled the hole with cement to plug the faulty well for good.

"No one involved will forget this job," says John Wright, one of the drillers who helped plug the well. "There is a sense of satisfaction that we have accomplished our goal as planned."

But Wright says no one on his team celebrated closing the well. Since April, more than 206 million barrels of oil poured into the Gulf only 40 miles off Louisiana's coast. Though the well is closed, the spill caused lasting problems that still must be addressed.

The spill's effects on the environment and local wildlife have particularly shocked and saddened the world. Many endangered animals like turtles and pelicans have been killed or poisoned by the oil spill, which originated with an explosion under Deepwater Horizon, an offshore oil rig. Scientists worry that animals that encountered the oil may be diseased for generations to come.

Thousands of people have been affected too. In June, British Petroleum (BP)—the company responsible for the spill—agreed to create a $20 billion fund to help pay for cleaning up the environment and also to help people who lost money because of the spill, like fishermen. The company has so far spent almost $10 billion.

On Sunday, President Barack Obama thanked "the thousands of men and women who worked around the clock to respond to this crisis."

TRACKING THE OIL-SPILL DISASTER

Scholastic News Online has been tracking the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Click here for a collection of news stories, video, a kids' poll, and other resources that will grow as the events of this environmental disaster unfold.

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