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Gulf oil spill: approaching size of Exxon Valdez, whistleblower group says


An oceanographer analyzing the official oil spill maps in the Gulf of Mexico said Saturday that the BP spill is now a more than 10 million gallons, nearly as large as the slick created by the Exxon Valdez, the largest oil spill in U.S. history.

Ian MacDonald, an oceanographer at Florida State University, avoided comparisons to the Exxon spill, which was a heavier crude, but said Saturday: "The spill is growing. I'm comfortable saying that the size and extent of this slick is 10 million gallons."

Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen said earlier that “any exact estimate is probably impossible at this time.”

The environmental whistle-blower group Skytruth estimated the spill at slightly more than 11 million gallons and once again increased the current calculations for the flow rate to 25,000 barrels a day.The nonprofit originally discovered that official flow estimates of the BP blowout were far too small, an observation later confirmed by federal officials and BP.

John Amos, president of Skytruth, said Saturday that analysis of the Coast Guard’s mapping reveals that the “rock-bottom” estimate for the amount of oil in the gulf’s waters has reached 11.1 million gallons.

MacDonald, the oceanographer, said his estimates came from satellite and infrared imagery and used standard federal guidelines for the estimates. He said that the good news is that winds so far have prevented the massive spill from coming into contact with the Gulf Stream current, which could sweep the slick eastward around the Gulf coastline and into Florida, possibly around the tip of that state and into the Atlantic.

Regarding the flow rates, the Mobile Press Register reported that an internal memo from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration that laid out a worst-case scenario of 50,000 barrels a day pouring from the unchecked wellhead.

That would be consistent with flow rates from other oil-producing gulf wells, where controlled flow rates yield 30,000 barrels a day.

-- Julie Cart

Photo: NASA satellite image of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill on April 29.

Comments () | Archives (5)

The comments to this entry are closed. has a Eco friendly solution to clean up the tragedy British Petroleum has created, please watch the video animation: and pass this along to as many people as you know.

One person can still make a difference in this world, is that simple interactions have a rippling effect. Each time this gets pass along, the hope in cleaning our planet is passed on.

"Why has the Obama Administration been so slow in responding to this disaster?"

Out of all the questions you ask this? What answer do you want? Did you not ready a single word in this article? Or did you just want to post a meaningless comment like that?

Why don't you ask the Bush administration why it thought that not having the acoustic switch mandatory for drilling in American waters? Its standard around the world.

They say it is to expensive. This is what you get when Oil Companies have say in this matter. They don't care about the environment all they see is money to be made. Regulation is a must.

It's time for the press to stop calling this a "spill". That term doesn't even come close to describing the gusher of oil emerging from the mass of piping that's collapsed onto the ocean floor around it. Please find another term. Let's see you get creative with the language. Be the first on your journalistic block...

BP was lying about it for a few days and still trying to. The USCG was on scene durring fire and has been involved ever since. There is absolutely nothing anyone can do. This will totally kill the gulf, make it uninhabitable as well as the eastern seaboard of the US. This is just a start.

Why has the Obama Administration been so slow in responding to this disaster?


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