Rafael Morales — May 19, 2010
70,000 Barrels per day leaking out second pipe in BP Oil Disaster
How Big is the Spill?
13 May, 2010
BP initially asserted that 1,000 barrels of oil per day 42,000 gallons were gushing forth from the broken pipeline. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration soon upped the estimate to 5,000 barrels per day 210,000 gallons. Then experts stated the gusher is more likely on the order of 25,000 barrels per day 1,050,000 gallons. That would mean the amount spilled already exceeds the 10.8 million gallons spilled by the Exxon Valdez, making it the worst oil spill in American history. On May 4, BP officials reported that the oil spill could grow at 12 times the initial estimate, releasing 2.5 million gallons of oil per day into the Gulf of Mexico. If the wellhead fails completely — which hasn’t happened yet — the spill rate could increase to 6.8 million gallons of oil per day.
Oil has landed on several small islands known as the Chandeleur Islands on the Louisiana coast, including areas of the Breton National Wildlife Refuge. Oil covered gannets and brown pelicans have been found and the refuge was closed to the public for safety reasons. The area provides key nesting and migratory stopover habitat for thousands of birds, as well as important fishery habitat. Tar balls have also washed up on Alabama’s white sandy beaches of Dauphin Island. Some of the oily foam, a mixture of oil, water, and dispersants, is also washing up near the Mississippi delta. The stench of crude permeates coastal areas, where it’s causing headaches, burning eyes, and nausea among the people who live there. Meanwhile, a ban on fishing continues as the oil continues to seep into the Gulf.