TODAY   |  August 02, 2010

Gulf crews prep for ‘static kill’

Engineers are preparing to inject mud and cement into the blown-out Macondo well in an effort to plug the gusher up forever. NBC’s Anne Thompson reports.

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ANN CURRY, co-host: But let's begin on this day 105 of the disaster in the gulf with engineers preparing to begin that so-called static kill that will hopefully plug the oil leak for good. We've got NBC 's chief environment affairs correspondent Anne Thompson in Venice , Louisiana , where she has been covering this story since it began. Anne , good morning.

ANNE THOMPSON reporting: Good morning, Ann. The final piece of piping has been laid in the relief well, and now all the attention for at least the next two days will turn to the static kill. We flew out to the leak site with the Coast Guard 's man in charge of the cleanup that could go on for years. From several hundred feet up, the gulf is now mostly blue, even near the leak site.

Rear Admiral PAUL ZUKUNFT: Is there oil out here still? You bet. But is it in thick, heavy concentrations? No. Is there more work to be done? You bet there's still a lot of work to be done.

THOMPSON: Finding and cleaning up what's left is the job of Coast Guard Rear Admiral Paul Zukunft , the federal on-scene coordinator. From the bow of the Coast Guard cutter Decisive , he points out the rig that could help plug the troubled well.

Rear Adm. ZUKUNFT: That's the Q4000 , and so they will deliver the lethal injection, if you will, the static kill. And it's heavy mud that will be pumped down into the Deepwater Horizon well casing.

THOMPSON: But that's not the end of the story. Can you relax if static kill is successful?

Rear Adm. ZUKUNFT: No, I can't relax until we have a permanent kill. So this puts us in a much better place. But we're not out of the woods yet.

THOMPSON: There is still oil on the coast and in the marshes. BP 's Doug Suttles toured some of the tainted wetlands of Plaquemines Parish and tried to quell fears that the oil company will cut and run once the well is killed.

Mr. DOUG SUTTLES (BP Chief Operating Officer For Exploration and Production): I know people worry about that, and I'm not surprised that they worry about it because at the end of the day they're just going to watch and see. And they're -- but I'd ask them to judge us on what we've done.

THOMPSON: So far the long-term recovery plan BP 's proposed is unacceptable to Plaquemines ' fiery parish president .

Mr. BILLY NUNGESSER (President, Plaquemines Parish): We need to be at the same table, we need to agree on these plans. We may disagree on parts of the plan but they have to have teeth in them and we have to live up to our word.

THOMPSON: Now, living up to their word means that BP restores the gulf, a national treasure that provides dinner for America 's -- or excuse me, provides seafood for America 's dinner table and also provides a way of life for a