GWEN IFILL: BP reported success today in its effort to end the Gulf oil spill once and for all. That word came 107 days after the crisis began. Political leaders welcomed the news, but Gulf Coast residents were willing only to wait and see.
After a series of failed attempts to stem the flow of oil gushing from the Macondo well, officials said the latest effort, the static kill, appears to be working. Crews pumped in heavy mud for eight hours overnight. And, early today, BP reported the well had reached a static condition, with the pressure under control.
A few hours later, President Obama expressed his relief.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: It was very welcome news when we learned overnight that efforts to stop the well through what's called a static kill appear to be working, and that a report out today by our scientists show that the vast majority of the spilled oil has been dispersed or removed from the water. So, the long battle to stop the leak and contain the oil is finally close to coming to an end.
GWEN IFILL: Administration officials later said 74 percent of the more than 200 million gallons that leaked has either evaporated or been dispersed or collected. That would still leave 50 million gallons or more in the Gulf, about five times the size of the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill.
Jane Lubchenco heads the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration.
JANE LUBCHENCO, Administrator, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration: I think the bottom line here is that the -- we can account for all but about 26 percent. And, of that, much of is being -- in the process of being degraded and cleaned up on the shore.
GWEN IFILL: But the estimate was met with skepticism by many in the Gulf region. Charter boat captain Ryan Lambert spoke with the "NewsHour"'s Tom Bearden in Buras, Louisiana.
RYAN LAMBERT, Charter Boat Captain: We're talking about 40 million gallons of oil that's unaccounted for, at least. And that's -- you know, we were getting 5,000-barrel estimates at first. Then it went to God only knows what. I mean, the whole thing has been about perception from day one. It puts a lack of trust in my mind right off.
TOM BEARDEN: You just don't believe BP?
RYAN LAMBERT: I don't believe any of them. I don't believe -- I don't like -- it looks to me like there's too chummy a relationship between the government and them and the cleanup and the -- the -- the whole -- the whole thing.
GWEN IFILL: That kind of suspicion was also evident elsewhere today.
DAWN NUNEZ, Amigo Ice Company: We don't think, after three months of oil spilling in the Gulf, that, it capped for two weeks, it's all better.
GEORGE BARISICH, United Commercial Fishermen's Association: It gives some people the idea that everything is OK, so BP can leave, everything is done and over with.
GWEN IFILL: Back in Washington, the president and his aides reiterated that recovery and restoration will continue until the job is done.
ROBERT GIBBS, White House Press Secretary: There's a lot of reasons why there's no "mission accomplished" banner, because there's a lot of work to do. We're not leaving the area. And, more importantly, we're not leaving behind any commitment to clean up what's been -- the damage that's been done and repair and restore the Gulf.
GWEN IFILL: Meanwhile, the use of chemical dispersants to dissolve the oil came in for Senate scrutiny.
At a hearing, Assistant EPA Administrator Paul Anastas said his agency had a tough decision to make.
PAUL ANASTAS, Assistant EPA Administrator: The long-term effects on aquatic life are still significantly unknown. But what we do know right now is this: We see that the dispersants are working to help the oil -- keep the oil off our precious shorelines and away from sensitive coastal ecosystems.
GWEN IFILL: Anastas said EPA had not found the dispersants to be excessively toxic, but he emphasized that more testing and monitoring must be done.