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Gulf oil flow stoppage is just a first step in BP cleanup

After spewing oil for 87 days into the Gulf of Mexico, the runaway oil well was finally brought under control as BP engineers closed all the valves on the new cap installed this week.

It is really the first major positive development to occur in nearly three months, which has been a long time coming.

The positive step is by no means the end of the worst oil spill in American history. There will be many hurdles to clear before this ruptured well can be killed completely.

Pressure readings from the new cap Friday afternoon were less than ideal, according to a federal official. The pressure test on the well cap could last well into today.

This oil spewing stoppage is only the first step in dealing with this spill. The well cap remains a temporary measure until BP can successfully plug the well with cement and mud deep underground. This would then permanently seal the well.

Only then can BP and the Gulf proceed to the third step -- cleaning up the oil for the long term.

The fifth step -- rebuilding the economy of the Gulf region -- will be the biggest challenge. BP has already paid out more than $200 million in claims to 32,000 claimants. Another 17,000 claims are being evaluated and more information is being sought on another 61,000 claims.

The new cap shutting down the oil spill is a good sign, but it is only the first step in a long process.

The BP oil spill is a manmade disaster where the recovery will take years, if not a decade or two. -- West Central Tribune