As BP prepares to try to permanently plug its ruptured well in the Gulf of Mexico, more information is coming to light about the full extent of the disaster.
The oil company says it is still hoping to attempt the first of two operations today, as part of what it is calling a “static kill”. This despite the technical delay of a crucial test.
US government scientists now say that 4.9 million barrels of oil, or 780 million litres, leaked into the Gulf. Only about 16 percent of that has been collected. Compare that to what was spilt, for example, in the Exxon Valdez disaster: 41 million litres.
Conservation groups have been investigating the damage, discovering what they call significant quantities of oil along the shoreline.
Matt Ferraro from the Ocean Futures Society said: “As we searched around the shore we actually found found these small little holes that were in the sand. And as you stepped on the sand next to them, it was kind of squishy and oil bubbled up from out of the sand.”
The group disputes reassurances that chemical dispersants have got rid of much of the oil. Some groups are also questioning whether it really was wise to restart fishing in some areas last week.
BP’s chief operating officer says he believes authorities made the right decision, however, saying he would eat fish from the Gulf and would let his family eat it, too.