No New Oil, But the Disaster's Not Over

Oil on Calumet Island, LA, Aug. 3, 2010. CBS/Mark Strassmann

On the oil-weary coast of Louisiana, a capped well hardly means the disaster's over.

Sure, no new oil has leaked since BP installed its containment cap on July 15th.

Gulf waters are dramatically more clean and clear than they were just three weeks ago -- at least on the surface.

And with the "static kill" scheduled for later today, and completion of the relief well now a week or so away, most coastal residents could believe the worst is behind them.

Unless it's not.

No one knows for certain the long-term environmental and economic damage from this spill. And on coastal Louisiana, the two are intertwined. Commercial fishermen worry oil may tar the sea bed where shrimp, oysters and crab breed. Hotel and restaurant owners worry the real lasting stain of the spill is a stigma that will scare away tourists for years.  Deepwater oil drilling's on hold, while the Obama Administration completes a safety review. And who will be eligible for BP's compensation, and for how long?

So whenever BP finally kills its runaway well, just remember that this crisis will live on for thousands of people whose lives were forever changed when the Deepwater Horizon exploded on April 20th.

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  • Mark Strassmann
    Mark Strassmann

    Mark Strassmann has been a CBS News correspondent since January 2001 and is based in the Atlanta bureau.