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rosco 357


Veteran
Expert: Surface area of Gulf oil spill has tripled
By CAIN BURDEAU and HOLBROOK MOHR Associated Press Writers The Associated Press

Saturday, May 1, 2010 12:52 PM EDT

VENICE, La. (AP) The surface area of a catastrophic Gulf of Mexico oil spill quickly tripled in size amid growing fears among experts that the slick could become vastly more devastating than it seemed just two days ago.

The newly named federal point man for the oil spill said it was impossible to pinpoint precisely how much oil is leaking from a ruptured underwater well.

"And, in fact, any exact estimation of what's flowing out of those pipes down there is probably impossible at this time due to the depth of the water and our ability to try and assess that from remotely operated vehicles and video," Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Thad Allen said during a conference call Saturday.

The Coast Guard has given a rough estimate that 200,000 gallons of oil are spewing out each day which would mean 1.6 million gallons of oil have spilled since the April 20 explosion that killed 11 workers. The environmental mess could eclipse the Exxon Valdez disaster, when an oil tanker spilled 11 million gallons off Alaska's shores in 1989.

Although estimates of the rate of the leak are inexact, Allen said the most pressing priority is capping the undersea leak at its source because it could otherwise spew oil for 45 to 90 days. He said it has not been determined how much oil is below the surface.

President Barack Obama has planned a Sunday trip to the Gulf Coast for an update on containment efforts.

Documents also have emerged showing BP PLC downplayed the possibility of a catastrophic accident at the offshore rig that exploded. BP operated the rig, which was owned by Transocean Ltd.

How far the spill will reach is unknown, but the sheen already has reached into precious shoreline habitat and remains unstopped, raising fears that the ruptured well could be pouring more oil into the gulf than estimated.

The slick nearly tripled in just a day or so, growing from a spill the size of Rhode Island to something closer to the size of Puerto Rico, according to images collected from mostly European satellites and analyzed by the University of Miami.

On Thursday, the size of the slick was about 1,150 square miles, but by Friday's end it was in the range of 3,850 square miles, said Hans Graber, executive director of the university's Center for Southeastern Tropical Advanced Remote Sensing. That suggests the oil has started spilling from the well more quickly, Graber said.

"The spill and the spreading is getting so much faster and expanding much quicker than they estimated," Graber told The Associated Press on Saturday.

Louisiana State University professor Ed Overton, who heads a federal chemical hazard assessment team for oil spills, cautioned that satellites can't measure the thickness of the sheen, which makes it difficult to judge how much oil is on the water.

Another issue is that the oil slicks are not one giant uniform spill the size of an island. Instead, they are "little globs of oil in an area of big water," Overton said.

Still, experts cautioned that if the spill continues growing unchecked, sea currents could suck the sheen down past the Florida Keys and then up the Eastern Seaboard.

The Florida Keys are home to the only living coral barrier reef in North America, and the third largest coral barrier reef in the world. About 84 percent of the nation's coral reefs are located in Florida, where hundreds of marine species live, breed and spawn.

"If it gets into the Keys, that would be devastating," said Duke University biologist Larry Crowder.

Ian R. MacDonald, an oceanography professor at Florida State University, said his examination of Coast Guard charts and satellite images indicated that 8 million to 9 million gallons had already spilled by April 28.

Alabama's governor said his state was preparing for a worst-case scenario of 150,000 barrels, or more than 6 million gallons per day. At that rate the spill would amount to a Valdez-sized spill every two days, and the situation could last for months.

"I hope they can cap this and we talk about 'remember back when,'" Gov. Bob Riley said late Friday, "but we are taking that worst-case and building barriers against it."

The spill a slick more than 130 miles long and 70 miles wide threatens hundreds of species of wildlife, including birds, dolphins, and the fish, shrimp, oysters and crabs that make the Gulf Coast one of the nation's most abundant sources of seafood.

BP suggested in a 2009 exploration plan and environmental impact analysis for the well that an accident leading to a giant crude oil spill and serious damage to beaches, fish and mammals was unlikely, or virtually impossible.

The Coast Guard said Saturday it had shut down two offshore platforms and evacuated one of them near the spill as a safety precaution.

A sheen of oil from the edges of the slick was washing up at Venice, La., and other extreme southeastern portions of Louisiana. Animal rescue operations ramped up as crews found the first oiled bird offshore.

Several miles out, the normally blue-green gulf waters were dotted with sticky, pea- to quarter-sized brown beads the consistency of tar. High seas were forecast through Sunday and could push oil deep into the inlets, ponds, creeks and lakes that line the boot of southeastern Louisiana. With the wind blowing from the south, the mess could reach the Mississippi, Alabama and Florida coasts by Monday.

Amid increased fingerpointing, the government desperately cast about for new ideas for dealing with the growing environmental crisis. Obama halted any new offshore drilling projects unless rigs have new safeguards to prevent another disaster.

Lt. James McKnight, public information officer for the Coast Guard in Mobile, Ala., said hundreds of boats are laying thousands of feet of boom along the shore of that state and Florida.

He also said a team of experts from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, BP employees, federal workers and outside scientists were working at the command center in Mobile to help come up with new ideas to contain the spill.

"It's almost like a brain trust down there. They are trying to come up with any new ideas," McKnight said.

They are closely watching the winds and currents to see where the massive slick is headed. The NOAA scientists there have said the oil so far is mostly at the surface, meaning it shouldn't make its way into the currents just yet.

Officials have said stemming the flow of oil is their top priority, but the seas have been too rough and the winds too strong to burn off the oil, suck it up effectively with skimmer vessels, or hold it in check with the miles of orange and yellow inflatable booms strung along the coast.

The floating barriers broke loose in the choppy water, and waves sent oily water lapping over them.

BP and federal authorities also released a chemical dispersant overnight at the site of the leak, nearly a mile underwater, and they were evaluating the effort Saturday.

Many of the oil-cleaning boats remained tied to the docks Saturday in Venice, partly because of the weather.

The weather also was keeping skimmers and other larger vessels stuck in harbor, said Coast Guard Petty Officer 1st Class David Mosley, a spokesman for a command center in Robert, La.

"Waves are going anywhere from 5 feet to 8 feet high and getting bigger," he said. "It definitely makes it more difficult."

runawayhorses


Owner
This is so bad. That's all I can think of to say. I'm saddened by this, and also glad Obama has halted drilling off the coast of Florida (for now). But its going to be a disaster come Monday. The oil company's did what I always feared they would do, ruin Florida's beaches. Florida was famous for its beautiful beaches and coral reefs, and people came here from all over this country, and the world for that matter, to visit it and vacation here. Florida was Famous for a nice environment. Now it will be destroyed by the oil company's, like I always feared and suspected they would. What a shame. I'm glad my Dad is not here to see this, he would be very sad. He loved FL like I do, was born here. Floridians don't just lose here, everyone does. Now you have no beautiful Florida beaches to go to anymore. The environment has been given a heavy blow by oil company's yet again.. You might as well stay home and watch TV, or plan your next vacation to the Mountains or someplace. Florida is not where you want to be right now and probably not for a very long time. Thanks to dumbass's that work for the oil company's that don't know what the hell they are doing, now Florida is ruined. Again, I say thanks assholes. Thank you for ruining my state and others. You jackasses and money hungry jerks, you destroy anything and everything to put money in your pockets. Its sicking.

gypsy


Moderator
The word Hate,is not in my vocabulary//you know what/ I hate this.

plus this should have not happened/some one messed up..
another thought,, sabotage

rosco 357


Veteran
alabama has pretty beaches as well, not as much of course, but a good size in gulf shore, where we have vacationed, my nephew takes his 5th wheel 30 foot camper and leaves it at a campground that u call ahead they take it out of a fenced area and will place it in a camp spot .i probably have said this. so his wife and my sister can go if he will be late,he now does not know to take it down or not. u saw the pictures i took on one of our vacations from the condo we rented,how white the beaches were, i had the whole family there then when i was married, we had a great time, as a child we always went to panama city, some summers or the smokies some summers, i guess u read the other article where the LA. ppl just have a blank stare in their eyes, u can't clean that in the grassy areas, or probably the beaches , in alaska it was mainly rocks, but the main thing is they dont know how long this will go on. it is very sad, even though our beaches are small compaird to florida, we love them,, and bayou la batre, is where alabama does lots of shrimping and i dont know what all seafood, like its been said this oil is over one of the most fertile seafood areas there are, it is terribly sad,,, i know gypsy has vacationed in gulf shore AL, because we discussed some of the same place we have dined at there... again its pittifully sad... we have ppl i work with this weekend in panama city for " thunder on the beach" and probably some of my cousins are there, for the motorcyle weekend, in PC, we love florida, when a child my dad on one vacation drove down the east coast and up the west coast staying in different places, clear water one nite which im sure was the closest place to where tyler lives, my X aunt lives in naples, we stayed there when i was a kid after we crossed the everglades, i liked naples, back when i was a kid it was a nice quite place and not expensive, i have no idea how it is now, again i dont know how to express how sad this is, it will change the life of so many ppl, the whole coast will be in my prayers,

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