The oil slick off the US Gulf Coast has been declared a matter of “national significance” amid growing concerns of an imminent environmental disaster.
The spill began a week ago when an oil rig exploded and sank. Despite containment efforts, it is expected to reach land on Friday or Saturday.
Doug Suttles, of BP Exploration and Production said: “It is horribly difficult to estimate what the flow is, but what we can see is the amount of oil on top of the water. We think that the range has increased of what the estimate has been. So I think that somewhere between one and five thousand barrels a day is probably the best estimate we have today.”
News that much more oil is leaking than previously thought is adding a sense of urgency to the unprecedented clean-up and prevention operation.
But as the situation has changed several times government officials say it could be three months before a relief valve is installed to stop the leak
The threat could not come at a worse time as the oyster season ends and shrimp season is set to begin, a key sector for Gulf Coast’s fishing and tourism industries.