So now it is official. What everyone has suspected for the last month, we now know to be true.
The Deepwater Horizon spill is now the largest in US history.
Yesterday President Obama attacked BP over America’s ‘worst oil disaster’, after new estimates put the amount of oil spilt at anything from 30 to 39 million gallons— nearly three to four times the official volume spilt by the Exxon Valdez in 1989.
Yesterday, scientists from the Flow Rate Technical Group, a task force made up of scientists from government and academia, produced preliminary estimates that 12,000 to 19,000 barrels a day have leaked into the Gulf.
The Interior Department had the figure at 12,000 to 25,000 barrels a day.
Scientists said they were not surprised by the new estimates. “That range is an interval that many people have long been thinking the magnitude really is,” said Jeffrey Short, a former scientist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration who now works for the environmental group Oceana.
Other scientists argue the figure is even higher – some as high as 95,000 barrels a day.
What these new estimates show is that BP has been deliberately underplaying the amount of oil from the spill.
The only reason is to reduce their liability.
“What’s clear is that BP has had an interest in low-balling the size of their accident, since every barrel spilled increases how much they could be fined by the government,” said Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass), who chairs the select committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming and the Energy and Environment subcommittee.
On the radio this morning, a BP spokesperson talked about the delicate nature of the “top kill” process and how it all depending on flow rate, pressure rate etc and they had been working for weeks to get this right. If the measurements are so precise – surely BP knows how much oil was coming out.
Also yesterday there was further evidence of the damage that BP’s over use of dispersants might be having, when scientists from the University of South Florida reported the discovery of a “plume” of dissolved oil that was six miles wide and up to 20 miles long that was floating under the water.
As the oil is now dissolved in the water, this would make it incredibly difficult to now contain and clean up the oil.
As to where this oil will end up – no one knows.