NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The federal official in charge of the Gulf oil spill says he has approved BP's plan to pump cement down the throat of the blown-out Gulf of Mexico well in hopes of sealing it for good.

The company plans to shove cement down from pipes attached to ships a mile above the sea. Earlier, crews were able to force down the oil with mud.

National Incident Commander Thad Allen said Wednesday night that he has approved the cement plan. But he ordered that it should not delay the ultimate solution of drilling a relief well that will cut off the leaking well far below the sea floor.

The company bottled up the leak on July 15 with a massive cap after it had spewed millions of gallons of oil into the sea, but that cap was always considered a temporary solution.