Oil Spill Update: Burns Today, Landfall Late Friday

NASA satellite imagery shows an oil sheen leaking from the site of the Deepwater Horizon incident in the Gulf of Mexico, April 26, 2010. The sheen is approximately 600 miles in circumference and recovery and clean-up efforts have resulted in the collection of 1,152 barrels/ 48,384 gallons of oily-water mixture. Photo courtesy NASA Earth

NASA satellite imagery shows an oil sheen leaking from the site of the Deepwater Horizon incident in the Gulf of Mexico, April 26, 2010. Photo courtesy NASA Earth

By Ian Graham

UPDATE — April 29: This morning, BP Chief Operating Officer Doug Suttles said on the Today show that as much as 5,000 barrels of oil are leaking into the Gulf of Mexico each day (not the previously estimated 1,000 barrels daily). A new leak was found in underwater pipelines during a test burn on the spill.

As oil continues to spread from the site of last week’s Deepwater Horizon explosion in the Gulf of Mexico, the government and the commercial parties involved are continuing their efforts to contain and disperse the spill.

On Wednesday, the unified response group put into effect a plan to burn oil out of the water, though they were delayed initially by weather conditions at sea.

According to a press release, the burn process is as follows:

“Workboats will consolidate oil into a fire resistant boom approximately 500 feet long. This oil will then be towed to a more remote area, where it will be ignited and burned in a controlled manner. The plan calls for small, controlled burns of several thousand gallons of oil lasting approximately one hour each.”

BP Chief Operating Officer Doug Suttles said his company’s plan to create a diversionary system at the leak’s source is still underway.  A containment chamber has been fabricated, but it could be two to four weeks before the necessary equipment to pump oil from the containment chamber is designed and built.

Suttles reported about 4,000 barrels of oily water were gathered Tuesday — about half of the total volume of oily water cleared from the spill.

The oil slick is still about 20 miles away from the Louisiana coast, and landfall is expected as early as Friday night in Louisiana.  Alabama and Mississippi could have oil reaching their shores before the weekend ends. The response group,  led by Rear Adm. Mary Landry, commander of the U.S. Coast Guard’s Eighth District, is coordinating with each state to make sure they can prevent a potentially disastrous landfall.

“It’s premature to say this spill is catastrophic,” Landry said. “But I will say it’s very serious.”

Click here for a diagram of where the oil has spread as of Wednesday.

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  • Cynthia

    The recent Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico is spilling massive amounts of crude oil into the sea and is threatening the environment and those people who depend on the wetlands for their livelihood, such as fishermen and lobstermen. There is also the issue of a possible loss of revenue for the hospitality industry and other industries in which people are affected and wages could be lost, all of which lead to potential damage claims. Sadly, other oil rig workers are leaving the site and losing wages, but they have valid fears that the spill will catch fire. The tragedy is also raising very serious environmental concerns, and could threaten the fragile ecosystem of the Louisiana and Mississippi coasts, which serve as nurseries for fish and shrimp and habitat for birds. The disaster is in violation of a number of environmental acts, including the Clean Water Act and the Oil Pollution Act and is among the worst offshore drilling disasters in recent U.S. history, and could be the deadliest. More information on this tragedy and its devastating effects on our environment can be found at http://www.oil-rig-explosions.com/

  • Seamus

    I’m not an oil spill expert, but looking at some of the pictures of the operations going on right now, it seems like the booms aren’t being used to their full capacity … or even close to it for that matter. I saw one boom closed off that looked to only have about 10% of its surface area with oil in it. Can someone shed some light on how this works?

  • Seamus

    Why does it seem like the booms are being under-utilized? There is a picture of one of them closed off and it seems like only about 10% of its surface area has oil on it. Can someone who knows how it works shed some light on whats going on?

  • Noview

    “A containment chamber has been fabricated, but it could be two to four weeks before the necessary equipment to pump oil from the containment chamber is designed and built”

    Proactive is good, but a reactive plan should always be up to date. With all the money they make off us, they should not skimp on their reactive plan! The lawmakers need to give take a break from deciding what to tax us with next; they should be passing laws to make these companies ready for accidents like this. I guess when you are making money like they do, heck with everything else! Environment included!

  • Todd Franklin

    If you have a pipe leeking oil why can’t you just use the subs to insert a inflatable device into the pipe and fill it with a quick harding substance.

  • Woodworking project plans

    The disaster is in violation of a number of environmental acts, including the Clean Water Act and the Oil Pollution Act and is among the worst offshore drilling disasters in recent U.S. history.