The Gulf of Mexico oil leak following the sinking of the rig Deepwater Horizon is five times worse than initially thought, says operator British Petroleum.
The cause? A third leaking section of the riser pipe, even closer to the underwater source.
The governor of Louisiana is calling for emergency assistance, and fears the oil slick could hit his state in hours.
“Specifically BP has just informed us of an additional breach in the riser of the underwater well.
While BP believes and we believed and established a 1000 barrel per day estimate of what is leaking from the well National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration experts believe the output can be as much as 5000 barrels,” said US Coastguards.
That would be over half the rig’s daily output, heavy road tar oil that could wipe out the Louisiana Delta’s fragile ecosystem. Protecting that is priority one.
The reasons for the disaster are too early to establish, but there are early questions about fail-safe valves: why didn’t fitted systems work, were the most suitable used, and why did the underwater robot fail to cut off the manual blowout valve?