"Close to 5,000 barrels of oil a day are pouring into the Gulf of Mexico following the destruction of an offshore oil platform last week, according to the U.S. Coast Guard. Operator BP originally argued that the amount was far less (only 1,000 barrels or so), but today it concurred with the government's numbers.
Too bad they're both wrong, according to a group of independent analysts who are watching the spill via satellite and aerial data from their offices in West Virginia. They say the spill is far worse than either the company or the government has acknowledged so far.
Five thousand barrels a day is 'a bare-bones limit,' says John Amos, the president and founder of the nonprofit firm SkyTruth, which specializes in gathering and analyzing satellite and aerial data to promote environmental conservation.
Amos estimates that the amount of oil leaking into the Gulf is more like 20,000 barrels a day -- four times the Coast Guard estimate, and 20 times what BP originally claimed. That would add up to about 6 million gallons of oil so far. With oil still flowing, this spill threatens to be worse than the 1989 wreck of the Exxon Valdez, which dumped 11 million gallons into Alaska's Prince William Sound -- one of the nation's worst environmental disasters."
Emily Gertz reports for OnEarth April 29, 2010.