Little Progress in Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill

The Deepwater Horizon oil spill is getting worse. According to The New York Times, BP officials told members of Congress yesterday that as much as 60,000 barrels of oil – more than 10 times estimates – could be gushing from the stricken well each day.

There is still no real estimate as to when the flow of oil into the Gulf of Mexico might be stopped. BP, which leased Deepwater Horizon from Transocean, is using a number of untested techniques to try to stop the flow of oil, the Times said. A containment dome is being prepared to be drop over the well.

The Associated Press is reporting that BP has managed to cap one of three leaks that lay 5,000 feet below the ocean’s surface. Unfortunately, the report said that would not slow the overall flow of oil from the well. However, it could make it easier to drop the containment dome on the breach.

For once, weather does seem to be cooperating with cleanup and containment crews. According to the Times, the weather is expected to hold the spill off shore for at least the next few days. However, there are concerns that the slick could come in contact with the Gulf Loop Current. If that happens, the oil spill could make its way to the Florida Keys into the Atlantic Ocean.

As the oil spill grows, so too do the estimates of the economic damage it will bring. In a worst-case scenario, the oil could cause billions of dollars in damage to property, wildlife, livelihoods and the seafood industry all along the Gulf Coast. Already, it is clear that the spill will cause more than $75 million in economic damage, the current cap on liability for drilling accidents. According to the Times, legislation has been introduced in Congress to raise that cap to $10 billion, and to make sure that the new limit applies to this spill.

The New York Times is also reporting that attorneys general from Gulf Coast states have been working on a letter to BP urging it to define what is meant by its repeated statement that it intends to pay “legitimate” claims. The attorneys general also want a fund created to begin paying out claims to state and local governments and to residents. BP has announced that $25 million block grants will be going to four states most likely to be affected by the spill.

The Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion now ranks among the worst offshore drilling disasters in recent U.S. history. Eleven workers who were unaccounted for after the April 20 blast are still missing, and are presumed dead. The fatalities make this the deadliest U.S. offshore rig explosion since 1968.

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