When we last checked in on the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, a cap had stopped the flow of oil into the Gulf. That cap has held and much of the oil on the surface has dissolved. But this is hardly cause for celebration, as many near- and long-term problems are likely to linger for the Gulf region and the millions of Americans who live there. Here's an update on the situation.

  • Oil in Gulf Rapidly Dissolving The New York Times' Justin Gillis and Campbell Robertson report, "The oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico appears to be dissolving far more rapidly than anyone expected, a piece of good news that raises tricky new questions about how fast the government should scale back its response to the Deepwater Horizon disaster. The immense patches of surface oil that covered thousands of square miles of the gulf after the April 20 oil rig explosion are largely gone ... radar images taken since then suggest that these few remaining patches are quickly breaking down in the warm surface waters of the gulf."
  • Well Might Finally Be 'Killed' Soon Reuters' Alyson Zepeda reports, "BP Plc could start the final procedure to kill its ruptured oil well in the Gulf of Mexico late next week despite storm-related delays, the top U.S. oil spill official said on Monday."
  • But Dissolved Oil May Present Risk Gillis and Robertson add, "The effect on sea life of the large amounts of oil that dissolved below the surface is still a mystery. Two preliminary government reports on that issue have found concentrations of toxic compounds in the deep sea to be low, but the reports left many questions, especially regarding an apparent decline in oxygen levels in the water."
  • And Dangerous Dispersants Remain Fox News' Jonathan Serrie writes, "Environmentalists have raised concerns over the toxicity of chemical dispersants, which BP used in record amounts (nearly 2 million gallons) to help break up the spill. Despite the risks, federal officials said the chemicals appear to have been effective in thinning out large patches of the spill -- making it more susceptible to micro-organisms that feed on oil."
  • Long-Term Consequences Largely Unknown The Los Angeles Times' Rong-Gong Lin and Richard Fausset warn, "Even though significantly less crude is now floating on the surface of the Gulf of Mexico, federal officials warned Tuesday that the region could still suffer long-term negative impacts from the spill, particularly from oil beneath the water's surface. 'The sheer volume of oil that's out there has to mean there will be some very significant impacts,' said Jane Lubchenco, head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. 'What we have yet to determine is the full impact that the oil will have on not just the shorelines, not just the wildlife -- but beneath the surface.'"
  • Most Beaches OK But Tourism Hurting USA Today's Wendy Koch writes, "The massive Gulf of Mexico oil spill has not fouled the vast majority of the area's beaches but is still scaring tourists away, according to a report to be released Wednesday. Almost all beach closures from the spill have been clustered in three areas of Louisiana. ... But the spill, which has spewed as much as 184 million gallons of oil since it began April 20, is worrying tourists and prompting dozens of health advisories throughout the Gulf."