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Thad Allen
Retired Coast Guard Admiral Thad W. Allen, left, has declared that BP's Macondo well is physically incapable of leaking oil because the "relief well" finally broke through at more than 17,000 feet below the Gulf of Mexico floor.

The "bottom kill" filled in the empty space between the pipe and the shaft's rock wall with cement. BP found no oil in this space. A final pressure test will allow the declaration of death.

The well was sealed off July 15, and cement was forced down its central pipe in a so-called "static kill" in early August.

Drilling began on the gulf floor a mile down and continued for another 2.4 miles into the earth. The relief well drill hit a seven-inch shaft and opened a hole into the space between the shaft's wall and the outer layer of pipe. When no oil came up, they knew that the Macondo well was plugged at its source.

(Wash Post, 9/18/2010)