From the Oct. 4, 2010 issue of TIME Magazine
For the engineers, at least, it's over. On Sept. 19, just a day short of five months after the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, retired Coast Guard admiral Thad Allen gave the official word: BP's blown Macondo well had been killed. It took BP experts and their Washington colleagues more than a month longer than they initially expected to complete the relief well, but given the complexity of the task engineers had to hit an underground target smaller than a dartboard it was still an impressive feat. Yet though the well is dead, the political, scientific and legal battles over the spill are very much alive. Government scientists are reporting that nearly all the escaped oil is gone, dissolved or dissipated, but academic researchers and environmentalists are skeptical. Kenneth Feinberg, appointed to oversee the $20 billion compensation fund, is struggling to meet the demand from Gulf Coast businesses and fishermen. And the White House and the oil industry are still battling over the future of offshore drilling in the U.S. In the end, killing the well might wind up being the easy part.