Gulf of Mexico slick could match Exxon Valdez spill in less than two months
Published: 29 April, 2010
The US Coast Guard says it has found a new leak beneath the site of last week's offshore drilling rig explosion, adding that five times as much oil was leaking as previously estimated.
If US Coast Guard estimates are correct, the slick could match the 11m gallons spilt from the Exxon Valdez within less than two months.
US Coast Guard Rear Admiral Mary Landry said the owner of the leaking well told U.S. officials of a new leak on a well 5,000 feet (1,525 metres) under the sea off Louisiana.
"BP has just briefed me of a new location of an additional breach in the riser of the deep underwater well," Landry said.
"This is not an exact science when we estimate the amount of oil. However, the NOAA is telling me now they'd prefer we use at least 5,000 barrels a day,” he added.
The leak, which has created a massive oil slick that could hit the Gulf Coast this weekend, is estimated at 5,000 barrels per day - up from the Coast Guard's previous estimate of 1,000 barrels per day.
Earlier, a coast guard crew set fire to part of the oil slick, in an attempt to save environmentally fragile wetlands.
Engineers are believed to be working on a dome-like device to cover oil rising to the surface and pump it to container vessels but it may be weeks before this is in place.
Forty-nine vessels including oil skimmers, tugboats barges and special recovery boats are working to round up the oil, BP said.