New Orleans, La. – Weather conditions at the well site are calming down enough to allow surface ships to begin taking off the capping stack. National Incident Commander Thad Allen says the first step is removing the device that's kept oil from gushing into the Gulf since mid-July.
"At that point, the blowout preventer will be open, basically, and we'll be relying on the cement plug - about 5,000 feet of cement was put in during the static kill."
The blowout preventer that failed to stop the explosion in April will be hauled to the surface and preserved as evidence. The Department of Justice is overseeing the process. Allen says a new blowout preventer will be installed. He says it should be able to handle the pressure from cement being pumped in from the bottom as a permanent seal.
For NPR News, I'm Eileen Fleming in New Orleans.