Engineers began pumping heavy drilling mud into the blown-out Gulf of Mexico oil well today in what they think is their best chance yet to reach the ultimate goal in a delicate process—snuffing one of the world's largest spills for good. Crews began the long-awaited effort dubbed the "static kill" this afternoon. The effort involves pumping mud and eventually cement down a pipe to seal off the source of the oil.
Crews should know within hours whether the mud is pushing down the oil as envisioned. But engineers still won't know for more than a week whether the attempt achieved its goal because they have to wait for completion of an 18,000-foot relief well to reach the reservoir from the bottom. "This is a really positive step forward," retired Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen said earlier, calling it "good news in a time where that hasn't been very much good news, but it shouldn't be a cause for premature celebration." (Read more Gulf oil spill stories.)