Federal officials said Thursday that they would leave the damaged BP well sealed even if the site is evacuated in advance of a storm brewing in the Gulf of Mexico.
"The decision has been made to leave the cap on even if the well is unattended," national incident commander Thad Allen said during an afternoon briefing.
The cap, installed last week, has stopped the gusher of oil that spewed into the gulf for three months. But the possibility existed that BP would be required to open it in the event of a storm and the evacuation of underwater robots and other equipment that are keeping a close watch for any new leaks.
Allen said that after days of consultations and careful monitoring, federal scientists were confident enough in their knowledge of the surrounding seabed to leave the well sealed and will no longer require BP to get daily extensions for the seal.