May 13, 2010
Contact:
Anna Christopher, NPR


   

NPR NEWS EXCLUSIVE: GULF OIL SPILL AT LEAST TEN TIMES WORSE THAN EXPECTED

SCIENTISTS EXAMINE BP-RELEASED VIDEO AND ESTIMATE 70,000 BARRELS PER DAY SPILLING INTO GULF;
U.S. COAST GUARD ESTIMATE AT 5,000 BARRELS PER DAY

An NPR News Investigation has found that there could be at least ten times the amount of oil spilling into the Gulf of Mexico from the Deepwater Horizon oil rig than previously estimated. NPR's Richard Harris asked scientists to analyze a video that BP released of a pipe on the seafloor spewing out oil. The scientists concluded that 70,000 barrels of oil are spilling into the Gulf each day, plus or minus 20 percent – 14 times higher than the official estimate of 5,000 barrels per day from the U.S. Coast Guard. A second estimate puts the oil flow at somewhere between 20,000 and 100,000 barrels per day.

Harris reports that these estimates indicate that the oil spilling into the Gulf has already far exceeded the equivalent of the 1989 Exxon Valdez tanker accident in Alaska. BP disputes these results and maintains there is no reliable way to calculate the flow of oil from a broken pipe.

The story is developing at NPR.org; Harris broke this story on All Things Considered, and will have more details tomorrow on Morning Edition. For local stations and broadcast times, visit www.npr.org/stations.

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