Scientists say BP oil leak estimates barely scratch the surface

oil drilling platform in the gulf of mexico

The BP oil leak has been grossly underestimated, according to scientists who expect the oil slick to be carried by the loop current to the Florida Keys. Flickr photo.

The BP oil leak continues to spew crude into the Gulf of Mexico, even with BP’s PR department trumpeting “success” over the weekend. After three weeks of continuous spillage, some scientists believe there is far more to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico than what can be seen on the surface. What’s more, these deep, undersea plumes of oil are approaching a current that could carry the oil spill to the Florida Keys and beyond.

BP oil spill response: too little too late?

The BP oil spill response has included several failed attempts to date.   Monday the BP oil spill response team announced that company engineers had inserted a metal tube into the end of the broken pipe that is allowing some oil to be siphoned to a surface ship. Voice of America reports that BP Vice President Kent Wells says the method will reduce the amount of oil spewing into the water. The next step is to try to pump mud and other materials to the sea floor and block the well.

Gulf coast oil spill: 30 million gallons and counting

The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico 2010 has already dumped nearly 5.67 million gallons into the sea, based on BP and U.S. Coast Guard estimates — an easy pay day loan compared to the cleanup costs that may be required for other estimates. As reported at, Dr. Ian MacDonald at Florida State University produced an estimate based on the U.S. Coast Guard aerial overflight map of the oil slick on April 28 that suggests a minimum average flow rate of slightly more than 1.1 million gallons of oil (26,500 barrels) per day. We’re now in Day 27 of the spill, which began with a blowout and explosion on April 20, so according to those estimates more than 30 million gallons may have been spilled into the Gulf of Mexico. Other scientists have estimated the spill at up to 3.4 million gallons a day.

Gulf coast oil spill: deep undersea plumes

The BP oil leak makes the notorious Exxon Valdez spill pale in comparison, with official estimates of that disaster at 11 million gallons. Although the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has yet to reach the shoreline in most areas, the New York Times reports that scientists are finding enormous oil plumes in deeper waters, including one as large as 10 miles long, 3 miles wide and 300 feet thick. The plumes are depleting the oxygen dissolved in the gulf. Scientists anticipate that oxygen levels will fall enough to kill off most undersea life near the plumes.

Oil spill may drift to Florida Keys

The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico 2010 is drawing closer to the Loop Current. Reuters reports that scientists say once the BP oil leak is in the loop, it could reach the Florida Keys in 10 days. The loop current is a ribbon of warm water that begins in the Gulf of Mexico and courses around Florida. Some scientists project the current will draw the oil slick through the Keys and then north up Florida’s Atlantic Coast. They said the oil might miss the beaches of Miami and Fort Lauderdale but could wash up around Palm Beach.

Gulf coast oil spill endangers tropical marine life

The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico 2010 could be on course to defile the third-longest barrier reef in the world, the 221-mile-long Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, which draws millions of tourist dollars to Florida’s floundering economy. The toxic oil slick can smother and kill the corals, causing a chain reaction of carnage among thousands of species of exotic marine life that live in and around reefs.

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