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Oil Spill Estimates Go Higher and Higher …up to an Exxon Valdez Every 10 Days

Published: June 13, 2010
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Source: All Gov.

Days after the Deepwater Horizon exploded and sunk, the first official estimate of the oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico was 200 barrels a day. It then changed to 1,000 barrels, and then 5,000. Now, scientists are talking about 20,000 barrels a day, or 30,000, or 40,000, or even 50,000.

How much is actually spilling into the ocean is important for three reasons. BP needs to know how many ships to have available near the Discoverer Enterprise which is collecting some of the oil through a pipe located near the broken well. Second, how much the company winds up paying in fines will be based on the official amount of oil discharged into the sea. And third, the official amount of spillage—whatever large total that is—will draw into question how the government ever came up with its earlier, considerably lower figures.
The 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster dumped about 250,000 barrels of oil into Alaska’s Prince William Sound. If the currently accepted figures for the Deepwater Horizon explosion are true, the BP Gulf oil spill is spewing the same amount as the Exxon Valdez…every ten days.
The worst scientifically-measured accidental spill in history was the 1979 explosion of the Ixtoc I oil well in the Gulf of Mexico, which released about 11,500 barrels of oil a day into the ocean—for more than nine months.
The No. 1 worst spill occurred in January 1991, during the Persian Gulf War, when Saddam Hussein ordered soldiers to dump the contents of several oil tankers, polluting 4,000 square miles of ocean.
While scientists continue to debate higher numbers of oil spillage in the current disaster, BP is discussing whether to cave into political pressure and stop paying dividends to investors in order to put aside money for claims from those affected by the accident.
-Noel Brinkerhoff
Scientists Offer Varied Estimates, All High, on Size of BP Oil Leak (by Joel Achenbach and Juliet Eilperin, Washington Post)
Official Oil Spill Estimate Doubles to 20,000-40,000 Barrels Per Day (by Josh Nelson, Huffington Post)
BP Directors to Discuss Suspension of Dividends (by Clifford Krauss, New York Times)
Admiral Allen; Dr. McNutt Provide Updates on Progress of Scientific Teams Analyzing Flow Rates from BP’s Well (Deepwater Horizon Response)

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