The infamous Macondo well is now "effectively dead" according to the federal government's number one point man for the Gulf Oil Spill.The owner of the well, BP, began its final cementing operations to cap the well Friday. Workers waited Saturday for the cement to harden inside the well, some 2.5 miles below the sea floor, and then conducted their final pressure tests.
While the well is sealed, and BP has so far paid $1.6 billion in claims and payments to the government, Congressman Edward J. Markey (D) of Massachusetts says many questions remain unanswered.
"This spill began with a bang, ends with a whimper, and leaves a number of issues still screaming for attention," he said Saturday in a statement regarding the well.
The once mighty and almost Category 5 Hurricane Igor sideswiped Bermuda this week, and despite the wind, rain and a power outage affecting most of the island's residents, no major injuries or serious damage was reported. The hurricane, still a Category 1, with maximum wind speeds at 75 mph, is headed north, and is expected to pass near the tip of Newfoundland before heading to Greenland.
Igor caused quite a stir earlier this week when it reached wind speeds near 150 mph, causing many in the US to worry about the possibility of landfall on the East Coast. While a few boat races were cancelled, and extra vigilance was called for along East Coast beaches, not too many people in the US noticed Igor other than surfers, who came out in mass to brave the much taller than normal waves.
The world is still struggling to help Pakistan recover from its devastating flooding. Iran has set up 9 medical camps in the the flooded Punjab region, along with increasing humanitarian aid to $100 million. Supreme Leader of Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei said that measures taken to help Pakistan were "insufficient" and called upon the Islamic world to focus on helping the ailing state out of its crisis.
Proctor & Gamble announced it was teaming up with the US government to provide 28 million water purification kits to flood victims. According to the US State Department, some $500,000 in private American donations, along with another $500,000 matched by Proctor & Gamble, with $1 million from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) will be used to finance the purchase and delivery of the kits.
Pakistan is on the brink of economic collapse, and its effects are being seen as society is breaking down in many areas in the nation. Mohammad Akram, 30, an unemployed security guard and father of four, who lost his home to the floods, doused himself with gasoline and lit himself on fire in front of Pakistani Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani's home in Multan, some 260 miles northeast of Islamabad.
Akram suffered burns on 95% of his body and died 18 hours after being rushed to a hospital. According to AP, The prime minister expressed his condolences and offered half a million rupees ($5,900) to Akram's surviving family as compensation.
2010 has so far been a quiet year for wildfires in the US. I considered writing a piece about it, but was advised by experts to wait on that, as September and October can be very active months for fires.
Several wildfires made the news this week, including one in northern Colorado that caused 100 people to evacuate their homes and burned 740 acres near Loveland, Colorado.
Another wildfire burned more than 9,000 acres near mountain communities in the southern Sierra Nevada.The fire destroyed one home and threatened 250 in the Lower Kern River Canyon southwest of Lake Isabella. Authorities said the fire was human-caused but have not determined whether it was an accidental or intentional.
A wildfire sparked at a firing range during a National Guard training session burned across thousands of acres in Camp Williams, Utah, only 30 miles south of Salt Lake City. Strong winds were blamed for the rapid spread of the fire. More than 10,000 acres were burnt in the fire, with 1,652 homes evacuated, and four destroyed.
By popular demand, we have expanded our fire list to 20 this week:
Top 20 US Wildfires by Size
|White Lightning Complex||Warm Springs Agency||Oregon||33,732|
|Twitchell Canyon Fire||Fishlake NF||Utah||30,000|
|Lower Deschutes Complex||Prineville District BLM||Oregon||9,304|
|Sheep Fire||Sequoia - Kings Canyon NP||California||7,562|
|Oak Flat||Rogue River - Siskiyou NF||Oregon||7,494|
|Little Beaver Complex||Boise NF||Idaho||6,373|
|Fourmile Canyon Fire||Arapaho & Roosevelt NFs||Colorado||6,181|
|Hot Tea||Boise District||Idaho||5,419|
|View Lake Fire Complex||Mt. Hood NF||Oregon||4,775|
|Bull Fire||Bridger - Teton NF||Wyoming||4,422|
|Rainbow Bridge Fire||North Cascades NP||Washington||3,635|
|Scott Mountain Fire||Willamette NF||Oregon||3,464|
|Banner||Salmon - Challis NF||Idaho||2,365|
|Larkins Complex||Clearwater NF||Idaho||2,200|
|Cardinal Creek||Flathead NF||Montana||2,100|
|Cougar Mountain||Prineville District BLM||Oregon||2,064|
|Hwy 8||Washington State: Southeast||Washington||2,019|
|Davis Fire||Helena NF||Montana||2,015|
|Harris Complex||Boise NF||Idaho||1,673|
DISASTER OF THE WEEK
Newspapers and television stations all over Texas are reporting torrential flooding all over South Texas, particularly in the Corpus Christi area, where one man is missing and presumed dead. More than seven inches of rain were recorded in 24 hours in the coastal Texas city from Sunday morning to Monday morning. Showers and thunderstorms are expected to continue through the week, and a coastal flood advisory has been issued for areas between Baffin Bay and the Matagora Ship Channel.
The Coastal Bend-Texas Chapter of the American Red Cross has opened one shelter so far, and with the help of the Salvation Army, and Krispy Kreme, is feeding the people seeking refuge from the area's floods.
Donations can be made at http://www.cbtredcross.org/ or text RED to 20222 for a $10 donation from your mobile phone.