A critical moment in the Gulf: BP has stopped the oil gusher, at least for now. Will the ruptured well hold up under the pressure? The latest on the test underway right now.
Want to know what else we're covering? Read EVENING BUZZ
Scroll down to join the live chat during the program. It's your chance to share your thoughts on tonight's headlines. Keep in mind, you have a better chance of having your comment get past our moderators if you follow our rules.
Here are some of them:
1) Keep it short (we don't have time to read a "book")
2) Don't write in ALL CAPS (there's no need to yell)
3) Use your real name (first name only is fine)
4) No links
5) Watch your language (keep it G-rated; PG at worst - and that includes $#&*)
We’re following breaking news tonight in the Gulf, where the oil spill disaster has reached a critical moment. On Day 87, a stark and welcome image is the center of attention. For the first time, a huge underwater gusher isn’t visible. A critical test of BP’s ruptured well is underway, and all along the gulf people are holding their breath—hoping that the well holds.
Valves on the new containment cap are now closed. Pressure in the well will be reviewed every six hours, likely through Saturday afternoon.
BP officials are cautioning against any early celebrating. They stress that the new containment cap isn’t a permanent solution. But if the well holds, it will be a major step. We’ll show you exactly what is being done a mile beneath the water’s surface and what could happen if the well doesn’t hold up under pressure.
Even if not another drop of oil spills into the gulf, there’s still work to be done in containment and clean up. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal says the sand berms he’s fought so hard to build are working and the federal government should stand behind local efforts to build them. But a lot of marine experts are pointing to photographs that show the berms washing away. They say the berms aren’t going to hold and even if they don’t wash away–they might do more harm than good. We’ll have the latest developments in the debate.
Randi Kaye also has an update on a heartbreaking story she reported last night: a surge in homeless pets in the Gulf. With the local economy reeling from the spill, many people can no longer afford to care for their beloved animals. Cats, dogs and other pets are being left at shelters, and the shelters are running out of room. Some of you who watched last night’s report responded. We’ll tell you the latest tonight.
There’s also important news from Haiti about those logjams and delays at the port. For days we’ve been telling you how emergency equipment and vital supplies of food and medicine are being held in limbo for weeks, even months at a time as the humanitarian crisis in Haiti continues. Gary Tuchman has been working the story hard. He interviewed the director of customs yesterday. Tonight, we report a breakthrough at customs.
All that and more starting at 10 p.m. eastern. See you then!
CNN Wire Staff
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://www.cnn.com/video/us/2010/07/15/vo.oil.stops.flowing.bp.576×324.jpg caption="BP VP Wells says he's "obviously very excited" by stoppage but focusing on the test" width=300 height=169]
A highly anticipated test designed to measure pressure within BP's ruptured Gulf of Mexico oil well began Thursday after a delay caused by leaking equipment.
A short time later, BP Senior Vice President Kent Wells announced that for the first time in almost three months, no oil was flowing into the Gulf. This was part of the test, as BP measures pressure in the well to see how it's holding. Higher pressure readings mean the well is containing the oil, while lower pressure means some is leaking out.
The data is being particularly closely scrutinized at six-hour intervals, so a key time will occur later Thursday night, after the first six hours.
It’s not just pelicans and turtles and dolphins that are affected by the oil spill. While the family pet may not be covered in oil, too many of them are now homeless because their owners, mainly fisherman, can no longer afford to take care of them. They are out of work and behind on bills, so now as many as 80 dogs a month are ending up in shelters, given away by their owners. Randi Kaye spent time at one shelter. Do you have questions for Randi? We want to know!
Send us a text message with your question. Text AC360 (or 22360), and you might hear it on air!
Ready for today's Beat 360°? Everyday we post a picture you provide the caption and our staff will join in too. Tune in tonight at 10pm to see if you are our favorite! Here is the 'Beat 360°' pic:
Anderson Cooper holds Finnegan one of the hundreds of pets in the Gulf-area that are now homeless. (Photo Courtesy: Terri Garland)
Have fun with it. We're looking forward to your captions! Make sure to include your name, city, state (or country) so we can post your comment.
Update: Beat 360° Winners
"Don’t worry, little one. You’re supposed to be a lapdog, not a watchdog."
"Don't look at me like that Anderson, they ARE tar balls on the beach – honest!!!"
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/US/07/15/oil.spill.faq/story.jpg caption="The Gulf of Mexico oil disaster began April 20 after the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded." width=300 height=169]
Here are answers to some basic questions about the massive oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico.
How did this all start?
The disaster, the worst environmental incident in U.S. history, was triggered April 20, when the oil drilling rig Deepwater Horizon exploded, burned and then sank two days later. Eleven workers were killed.
"There is no doubt at all here that what has happened is the blowout prevention mechanism at the bottom of the well ... is defective," Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said May 2 on CNN's "State of the Union."
Why is it taking so long to shut off the flow of oil? What methods have been tried to stop the oil flow at its source?
Is the search over for the serial bank robber dubbed “the burly bandit?”
Authorities said a man under arrest in Maine may be linked to a string of New England heists committed by a portly felon who weighs approximately 300lbs.
“We do have an individual in custody,” FBI Special Agent Gail A. Marcinkiewicz said in a message to CNN. “He was arrested for a bank robbery in Maine. We are looking into whether he is connected to those other bank robberies.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/07/14/burly1_web.jpg width=292 height=320]
“We have not said he is the burly bandit but are looking into whether he is connected.”
The man arrested in Maine has been identified as Robert Ferguson.
Since April, the burly bandit has been responsible for at least 10 armed hold-ups in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and New Hampshire.
FBI Special Agent Gail A. Marcinkiewicz explained to CNN why the heavy-set perpetrator was labeled the burly bandit. “When we have serial bank robbers, we kind of give them nicknames so that we can remember,” she said. “I think burly means stocky and he’s a rather stocky man.”
He’s also dangerous. “He has brandished a gun, he has threatened to kill people,” Marcinkiewicz said. “Anyone who walks into a bank, threatens tellers and threatens to kill them, that can be very traumatic to people. We just want to get him off the street.”
In each instance, the suspect wears a disguise or attempts to conceal his face. “He has used sunglasses, a wig, and a variety of hats,” the FBI said in a statement. “After receiving cash, he flees the bank on foot in an unknown direction.”
The burly bandit is believed to have robbed the Ocean Bank in Merrimack, New Hampshire on July 2.
A $25,000 reward is being offered to anyone with information leading to his arrest and conviction, authorities said.
Follow the Falcon File on Twitter @FalconCNN