BP well is finally dead

So are fish, shrimp, birds, turtles, dolphins, whales, livelihoods... Nearly five months after the largest environmental oil disaster in U.S. history began, the U.S. announced today that the relief well has successfully been plugged with cement.

“We can finally announce that the Macondo 252 well is effectively dead,” Thad W. Allen, the former Coast Guard admiral who leads the federal spill response, said in a statement. The well, he said, “poses no continuing threat to the Gulf of Mexico.”
Crews aboard the Development Driller III drill rig conducted a successful pressure test early Sunday on cement that had been pumped into the bottom of the once-gushing well through a relief well. The tests confirmed that the cement formed an effective, and final, seal to prevent oil and gas from coming up from a formation about 13,000 below the seabed.
It is still to be determined how to get BP to take full responsibility for this catastrophe, after their self-issued report that pointed the finger at their sub-contractors (a peek into their legal defense strategy):

With a conclusion unlikely to be taken as seriously as independent investigations, BP has issued its own internal report on the Gulf oil disaster that shifts the blame to its subcontractors -- primarily Transocean and Halliburton -- as the primary potential plaintiffs in the disaster.
There is also an ongoing dispute as to the disposition of the millions of gallons of oil and oxygen depleted-greenhouse gas, methane, that made its way into the Gulf.

“Although the well is now dead, we remain committed to continue aggressive efforts to clean up any additional oil we may see going forward,” Allen said.

The well will be abandoned. The oversight will pass to the Department of the Interior.

The questions that remain: what is the impact of the millions of gallons of dispersant that was poured and sprayed into the fragile ecosystem. Marin toxicologist, Riki Ott, reports that:

A mysterious persistent skin rash has occurred across the Gulf, coincident with BP's release of oil and chemical dispersants.
The University of Georgia reports the oil has settled on the sea floor in a two inch layer of sediment:

A team of researchers in the Gulf of Mexico say they found an oily layer as thick as two inches coating the sea floor in some places, and they believe it may be from the BP spill.

"I think what we're seeing is oil that was on the surface, that has sedimented down to the bottom," said Samantha Joye of the University of Georgia.
President Obama released a statement today on the closing of the well (emphasis ours):

"Today, we achieved an important milestone in our response to the BP oil spill - the final termination of the damaged well that sat deep under the Gulf of Mexico. I commend Admiral Thad Allen, Secretaries Salazar, Chu, Napolitano, Administrators Jackson and Lubchenco, Carol Browner, the federal science and engineering teams, and the thousands of men and women who worked around the clock to respond to this crisis and ultimately complete this challenging but critical step to ensure that the well has stopped leaking forever.

However, while we have seen a diminished need for our massive response that encompassed more than 40,000 people, 7,000 vessels and the coordination of dozens of federal, state and local agencies and other partners, we also remain committed to doing everything possible to make sure the Gulf Coast recovers fully from this disaster. This road will not be easy, but we will continue to work closely with the people of the Gulf to rebuild their livelihoods and restore the environment that supports them. My administration will see our communities, our businesses and our fragile ecosystems through this difficult time."
This disaster will have an impact on the Gulf for years to come. This was proven by the Exxon Valdez disaster which this catastrophe far exceeded. Much was done to mediate the impact and more will need to be done. The Coast Guard was on the scene quickly. The controversial decision to stop drilling in deep water until more information could be gathered did prevent (so far) an additional catastrophe. 3,500 abandoned Gulf wells that were uncovered as neglected during this disaster have now been ordered by the Obama Administration to be inspected and properly capped. The regulatory-captured agency, the Minerals Management Service, has been broken up and restaffed. Wildlife recovery worked overtime with pelicans and sea turtles. There was a remarkable effort to gather endangered sea turtle eggs with a mass transplant of their nests to safer shores.

What will remain to be seen: the actual impact on wildlife amid the poison and hydrocarbons that blanket the floor of the Gulf. The impact of the chemicals on the health of living creatures (including humans). The status of oxygen in the water as hydrocarbon-eating microorganisms explode in quantity in response to the oil. The impact that may never be measured of SO MUCH METHANE that was released into both the Gulf and the air; methane that is twenty times more potent (although with a shorter shelf life) than C02 as a greenhouse gas in the atmosphere and oxygen depletion agent underwater.

The president is correct to state: "This road will not be easy, but we will continue to work closely with the people of the Gulf to rebuild their livelihoods and restore the environment that supports them. My administration will see our communities, our businesses and our fragile ecosystems through this difficult time."

The well is capped. BP's finger pointing has begun. The impact will continue for sometime before a scene like the following video can be assured to be as safe an environment in the Gulf:

More on the Gulf Oil Disaster.