The Gulf Waits: Oil Is Plugged, But For Good?

"The Gulf Coast found itself in an odd moment of limbo Saturday: The oil has been stopped, but no one knows if it's corked for good. The clock expired on BP's 48-hour observation period and the government added another day of critical monitoring. Scientists and engineers were optimistic that the well showed no obvious signs of leaks, but were still struggling to understand puzzling pressure readings emerging from the bottom of the sea. It's possible the past three days will be only a brief reprieve from the flow of oil bleeding into the Gulf. Retired Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, the government's point man on the crisis, decided Saturday that after the testing was complete, the cap will be hooked up through pipes to ships on the surface that will collect the oil. That likely means releasing crude back into the water temporarily to relieve pressure. It still would not be gushing at the rate it had been before BP's latest fix. It will take months, or possibly years for the Gulf to recover. But if the coast was on edge about the impending decision, it wasn't apparent. In fact, there were signs that people were trying to get life — or at least a small part of it — back to normal."