Gulf Oil Spill May Far Exceed BP’s Estimates, Now Much Bigger Than Exxon Valdez Disaster

According to experts commissioned by National Public Radio in the U.S., the amount of oil spilling into the Gulf of Mexico may be at least 10 times the size of official estimates.

This just in from NPR:

At NPR’s request, experts examined video that BP released Wednesday. Their findings suggest the BP spill is already far larger than the 1989 Exxon Valdez accident in Alaska, which spilled at least 250,000 barrels of oil.

BP has said repeatedly that there is no reliable way to measure the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico by looking at the oil gushing out of the pipe. But scientists say there are actually many proven techniques for doing just that.

Steven Wereley, an associate professor of mechanical engineering at Purdue University, analyzed videotape of the seafloor gusher using a technique called particle image velocimetry.

A computer program simply tracks particles and calculates how fast they are moving. Wereley put the BP video of the gusher into his computer. He made a few simple calculations and came up with an astonishing value for the rate of the oil spill: 70,000 barrels a day — much higher than the official estimate of 5,000 barrels a day.

The method is accurate to a degree of plus or minus 20 percent.

Given that uncertainty, the amount of material spewing from the pipe could range from 56,000 barrels to 84,000 barrels a day. It is important to note that it’s not all oil. The short video BP released starts out with a shot of methane, but at the end it seems to be mostly oil.

Click here to read the full story and listen to the interview on NPR.

Meanwhile, yesterday on the floor of the U.S. Senate, Senator Lautenberg (New Jersey) asked unanimous consent to raise liability cap on oil companies, and Senator Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) objected! The Alaskan senior senator blocked the legislation that would have dramatically increased liability caps on oil companies, in the wake of one of the industry’s biggest disasters.

In honour of Ms. Murkowski’s jaw-dropping defense of Big Oil, I’m reposting this video from “Polluter Harmony”,  Even Environment-Hating Politicians Need to Feel Loved.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nIfnVM4O3js&feature=player_embedded]