Nightly News | September 20, 2010
BRIAN WILLIAMS, anchor: Now we turn to the Gulf of Mexico where an awful episode has now ended. BP this weekend said it has finally and permanently shut down the blown-out oil well . The company announced today it's joining the consortium of the world's biggest oil companies to develop a rapid response plan for any future gulf well accidents, but the effects of this one are a long way from over. Our chief environmental affairs correspondent Anne Thompson , as you may know, has covered this story from the very start. She's in New Orleans again for us tonight. Anne , good evening.
ANNE THOMPSON reporting: Good evening, Brian . Over the weekend the 1,000-foot cement plug at the bottom of the Macondo well withstood a pressure test. And with that, national incident commander Thad Allen declared the well dead. It certainly is a significant milestone, but as you said, it is by no means the end to this crisis. Five months after the explosion, there is still oil in the marshes of southeast Louisiana . Tar balls continue to wash up on beach -- on some beaches. Scientists are finding plumes of crude thousands of feet below the surface of the gulf, and now on the sea floor, that they suspect comes from BP 's well. All of that is making it very difficult for this area to recover. Today, some 40,000 square miles, almost 17 percent of the Gulf of Mexico , remains closed to fishing. Louisiana seafood production is devastated, down 70 percent. And tourism industries along the gulf coast , hotels, restaurants, they also report similar declines in business. This area has a big public relations problem that neither a presidential visit nor presidential endorsements nor ad campaigns have solved so far. And it is just one of many challenges facing this area in the wake of the oil spill . Brian :
WILLIAMS: Anne Thompson in New Orleans for us tonight. Anne , thanks