5 000 barrels of oil a day spill in the Gulf of Mexico

A damaged BP Plc oil well in the Gulf of Mexico is leaking as many as 5,000 barrels of crude a day, five times more than previously estimated, the U.S. Coast Guard said. “There’s an additional breach in the well,” Coast Guard spokesman Erik Swanson said by telephone from Robert, Louisiana. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has increased its estimates of the flow of crude from 1,000 barrels a day, he said.

The explosion and sinking of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig about 130 miles (210 kilometers) southeast of New Orleans last week caused a slick that had drifted within 16 miles of the coast, according to a Coast Guard map released after a press conference yesterday. The spill is about 600 miles in circumference, the Coast Guard said. That’s about twice the land area of Maryland, BusinessWeek informs.

Most of the slick is a thin sheen on the water's surface. About 3 percent of it is a heavy, pudding-like crude oil.

Efforts are already under way near the shoreline to deal with that potential scenario, including positioning boom material currently on hand around sensitive ecological areas. Five staging areas have been set up on land, stretching from Venice, Louisiana, to Pensacola, Florida, CNN reports.

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