Oil smothers Louisiana wetlands
NEW ORLEANS (AP) – BP conceded Thursday that more oil than it estimated is gushing into the Gulf of Mexico as heavy crude washed into Louisiana’s wetlands for the first time, feeding worries and uncertainty about the massive monthlong spill.
Mark Proegler, a spokesman for oil giant BP PLC, said a mile-long tube inserted into a leaking pipe over the weekend is now capturing 210,000 gallons a day – the total amount the company and the Coast Guard have estimated is gushing into the sea – but some is still escaping. The well blew out after an explosion a month ago on the offshore drilling rig Deepwater Horizon that killed 11 people.
Brown ooze from the spill coated marsh grasses and hung in the shallow water of a wetland at Louisiana’s southeastern tip, the first heavy oil seen on shore so far.
Gov. Bobby Jindal declared Wednesday it was just the outer edge of the real spill, much heavier than an oily sheen seen before.
BP, which was leasing the rig when it exploded, was marshaling equipment and conducting tests Thursday ahead of a new effort to choke off the oil’s flow.
In addition to the oil washing up in Louisiana, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Wednesday that a small portion of the slick had entered the so-called loop current, a stream of fast moving water that circulates around the Gulf before bending around Florida and up the Atlantic coast. Its arrival may portend a wider environmental catastrophe affecting the Florida Keys and tourist-dotted beaches along that state’s east coast.
Tracking the unpredictable spill and the complex loop current is a challenge for scientists, said Charlie Henry, a NOAA environmental scientist.
Florida’s state meteorologist said it will be at least another seven days before the oil reaches waters west of the Keys, and state officials sought to reassure visitors that beaches are still clean and safe.
“What’s the only oil on the beaches? Suntan oil,” Halstead said. Tar balls found earlier in the Florida Keys were not from the spill, the Coast Guard said Wednesday.
The Exxon Valdez tanker spilled 11 million gallons in Alaska in 1989. Rep. Edward J. Markey, D-Mass., said in a news release that BP complied with his request that a live feed of the oil spill be made publicly available on the Web.
Greenpeace activists scaled BP’s London headquarters Thursday to hang a flag accusing the oil company of polluting the environment. The group said the action was prompted by the Gulf of Mexico oil spill as well as a controversial project in Canada. BP spokesman Robert Wine called the action “a very calm and genteel protest,” and said no employees had been prevented from getting to work.
Update from Audubon:
May 18, 2010
We would like to invite you to join a live webcast to hear more about our response to the oil spill and how the tremendous outpouring of support from volunteers around country is helping to bolster these efforts. Please join us for a one hour live webcast, May 24 at 1:30 pm ET / 10:30 am PT hosted by Audubon’s Senior Director of Government Relations Mike Daulton and featuring Dr. Greg Butcher, Director of Bird Conservation, and Sean Saville, National Outreach Coordinator. We hope to hear from Melanie Driscoll, Audubon’s Director of Bird Conservation for our Louisiana Coastal Initiative. You will also have the opportunity to ask questions.
Greg has recently returned from Louisiana where he toured many of the areas that may feel the impacts of the spill. Sean spent last week on the ground in Louisiana helping to coordinate our initial volunteer response.
Please register for this live webcast at http://register.webcastgroup.com/l3/?wid=0650524105231
Hope to see you there!
Audubon’s Oil Spill Response Team
Gilbert Residents: Please read the following stories for ways you can help. The top article listed has every volunteer organization registered, and there are all kinds of ways to help. Hair, office supplies, cash, your time…there are many many ways to put our talents to work right here at home. Please feel free to contact [email protected] if you have any questions. I’ll keep you posted.
- BP oil spill update: 5-16-10 *volunteer info*
True ‘cost’ of cleanup
Pantyhose and hair needed for cleanup
National Wildlife Federation
- Oil oozes into LA…what shoudl happen to BP?
Tracy Lynn Cook
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