Some initial signs of ‘top kill’ progress

SOME INITIAL SIGNS OF ‘TOP KILL’ PROGRESS…. We likely won’t have a full account of whether the “top kill” method was successful in stopping the oil gusher in the Gulf until later today, at the earliest. But the initial reports offer some encouragement.

Engineers have succeeded in stopping the flow of oil and gas into the Gulf of Mexico from a gushing BP well, the federal government’s top oil spill commander, U.S. Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, said Thursday morning.

The “top kill” effort, launched Wednesday afternoon by industry and government engineers, has pumped enough drilling fluid to block all oil and gas from the well, Allen said. The pressure from the well is very low, but persists, he said.

Once engineers have reduced the well pressure to zero, they will begin to pump cement into the hole to entomb the well. To help that effort, he said, engineers are also pumping some debris into the blowout preventer at the top of the well.

Allen added, “We’ll get this under control.”

Update: As much as everyone hopes these initial assessments are accurate, we may not know the extent of the efforts success for several days.

For now, it appears the leak has slowed dramatically. That doesn’t mean it can’t start up again, and officials on the ground (and on the water) insist they’re far from declaring victory.

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.