NEW ORLEANS Many Gulf Coast residents dont believe it. Some accuse BP of making it up. And even those convinced that the oil leak has finally been stopped are tempered in their relief, aware that their environmental nightmare is far from over.
Its a beautiful thing that its shut off, trumpeter Shamarr Allen said as he stood on the sidewalk in the Musicians Village in New Orleans Upper Ninth Ward. But theres still a lot of years of cleaning. Theres going to be a lot of no fishing still. Its only the beginning of a long road that we have to travel. Its only the first step.
Reaction to the news that BP PLC had cut off the flow from the blown well nearly three months after an oil-rig explosion was marked with deep distrust of the oil giant. Gulf Coast residents have suffered from months of false starts and dashed hopes, failed top kills and abortive junk shots, containment domes and top hats, as they watched the biggest offshore oil spill in U.S. history foul their shores and eat into their livelihoods.
Its a (expletive) lie, shouted Stephon LaFrance, one of several oil-stained oystermen standing around Delta Marina in marshy Plaquemines Parish. I dont believe they stopped that leak. BPs trying to make their self look good.
Sitting on a boat, his cousin, Louie Randy Barthelemy, looked up and said: BPs trying to manipulate the media.
It doesnt mean anything, Craig St. Amant said as he tried to sell tours to passers-by on Bourbon Street in the French Quarter. They tell you what they want you to hear. I dont think theyre being truthful in saying what theyre saying.
Even those who believed what they were seeing on the live video feeds from the school of submersibles surrounding the damaged well head were having a hard time getting excited about this milestone.
At a dock in Hopedale, La., Roy Campos crew was unloading and boxing blue crabs their first in about a week because of closures. When they heard the news, the most the men could muster was a nod.
The oils still out there, so itll be a while, said Campo, 50, of St. Bernard.
Deckhand Manuel Meyer grinned, but his tone was somber.
It feels good, but I mean, the damage is already done. Thats the problem, said Meyer, 38. I mean, they can clean it up, but they finding oil popping up everywhere, and how did it get where its at? ... Its gonna continue for several years, several years, and it aint gonna do nothing but get worse before it gets better.
Others on the Gulf Coast do believe that their region has finally turned a corner in this creeping disaster.
Its a huge relief, said Geoffrey Lane, 43, a St. Charles landscaper who was visiting Pensacola Beach, Fla. At least now their focus can switch to get whats there out of the water.
Its freaking wonderful, said Gary Kiger, a 39-year-old shrimper from Cutoff, La.
Kiger has been involved in the cleanup from the beginning, working and living on his boat out in the Gulf. Looking down a pier of trawlers loaded with boom and vacuum equipment instead of nets, Kiger said he was ready to get back to hauling shrimp.
Its a living hell, you know. Everywhere you look theres oil and tar, he said. Itll drive you crazy, make you want to put a bullet in your head.
The cap placed on the blown well in the last week is only a temporary fix. BPs permanent fix, a relief well, is still days or even weeks from being completed, and a hurricane in the wrong place could set that timetable back.
We need to be cautious here, said BP Chief Operating Officer Doug Suttles. He said the capped well is a great sight, but its far from the finish line.
And lets face it: If BP CEO Tony Hayward said it was raining, most Gulf Coast residents would stick their heads out the window to check for themselves.
Some of the doubts that the leak has really been stopped appear to have sprung from glitches in the live feed from the Gulf floor. Some people complained that the video went out just as the oil stopped flowing, but an Associated Press reporter in Houston was able to view live footage of the shutoff the moment it happened Thursday 2:25 p.m. CDT.
For several days surrounding the cap operation, the 15 undersea camera feeds available through a link on BPs website have worked intermittently, at best. Sometimes, the feeds were hazy or hard to see. Other times, they were blank altogether.
BP said feeds were lost for periods of time because it had to move the cameras and robots out of the way for some of the preparations for the well integrity test.
There also has been a great demand among journalists and other viewers on the Web for a glimpse at the underwater operation. As a result, the increased number of people trying to link to the site surely caused it to freeze up from time to time.
Buras bartender Amy Hooks stopped watching the feeds a long time ago.
I used to watch it every day, all day, the 32-year-old said. Im tired of getting my hopes shot down. It really hurts. It hurts to see all the local people not being able to do what they love to do.