Oil spill in Gulf of Mexico is five times worse than first reported
The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico continues to expand, and government officials are now saying the ruptured well may be spewing five times more crude than was originally estimated. As strategies to stop the leak failed, the Coast Guard held a news conference late Wednesday night. Rear Adm. Mary E. Landry told reporters that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration had revised its previous estimate of the leak from 1,000 barrels a day to 5,000. Cleanup crews working on the oil spill are experimenting with burning the oil slick. Weather reports indicate the oil spill could reach the gulf coast of Louisiana by Friday night. As the crisis escalates, Landry said the U.S. military could be called in to assist, which will cost a lot of cash today.
Gulf coast oil spill accelerating
The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has been spreading since April 20 when a drilling rig leased by BP exploded and sank about 50 miles off the Louisiana coast, leaving 11 workers missing and presumed dead. It was originally thought the oil was issuing from two leaks in the riser, a 5,000-foot-long pipe leading from the rig to the wellhead on the ocean floor. The New York Times reports that Doug Suttles, chief operating officer for exploration and production for BP, said a new leak had been discovered. A leading edge of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico stretching about 100 miles across had advanced to 16 miles offshore Wednesday, closing in on the Mississippi River Delta.
Gulf coast oil spill estimates
To estimate the output of the leaks in the riser, scientists are eyeballing video feeds from remote submersibles. “That takes a practiced eye.” said Doug Helton in an e-mail message to the New York Times Wednesday night. “Like being able to look at a garden hose and judge how many gallons a minute are being discharged. The surface approach is to measure the area of the slick, the percent cover, and then estimate the thickness based on some rough color codes.” CNN reports that most of the slick is a thin sheen on the water’s surface. About 3 percent of it is a heavy, puddinglike crude oil.
Oil slick fire
An oil slick fire is being tested to diminish damage to the shoreline from the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The Associated Press reports that BP and Coast Guard crew late Wednesday afternoon started an oil slick fire test about 30 miles east of the Mississippi delta of the Mississippi River. A 500-foot fireproof boom was used to corral several thousand gallons of the thickest oil on the surface. The collected oil was towed away from the main body of the spill and ignited with hand held flares. The Coast Guard expected the flames to vaporize between 50 percent to 90 percent of the oil in the boom. Prevailing winds were expected to blow the toxic black cloud of smoke and soot out to sea.
Military to assist oil slick cleanup
As the oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico continued to spread, CNN reports that cleanup planners briefed Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on Thursday morning. The military is working on plans that could include putting a ship in the Gulf to support and resupply cleanup vessels or provide aircraft to help map the spill. A supply base along the coast may also be established for equipment and supplies for the oil spill cleanup, which is likely to be a long-term operation.
Gulf coast oil slick may spread for months
To eventually halt the oil slick in the gulf from spreading, CNN reports the NOAA said a rig will start drilling the first relief well about a half mile from the disaster site on Friday. But the well, intended to stop up the gushing leak with concrete, mud or other heavy liquid, will take several months to complete. A shorter term solution that is expected to take two to four weeks is a dome lowered over the leak at the sea floor which routs leaking oil to a surface collection point. Whether the Dome technique is effective is uncertain. It has never been tried at such depths.
Oil spill cleanup price tag
The oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico is exacting a heavy cost. Oil industry officials say replacing the rig that exploded and sank could cost up to $700 million. BP said containing the oil spill will cost $6 million. The cost of the disaster continues to rise and is expected to exceed $1 billion.