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NEW ORLEANS — Coast Guard officials said Monday afternoon that the oil spill near Louisiana was now covering more than 1,800 square miles of the Gulf of Mexico, and they have been unable to engage a mechanism that could shut off the well thousands of feet below the ocean’s surface.
The response team was trying three tacks to address a spill caused by an explosion on an oil rig last week: one that could stop the leaks within hours, one that would take months, and one that would not stop the leaks but would capture the oil and deliver it to the surface while permanent measures were pursu
An oil slick covering 400sq miles is threatening a slow-motion catastrophe for the Gulf of Mexico’s delicate marine life, with 42,000 gallons (160,000 litres) a day now gushing from an uncapped well after a rig explosion.
Two days after declaring that there was no leak and that oil on the surface was residue from on board the Deepwater Horizon drilling platform that burst into a fireball on Tuesday, officials revealed that the slick was coming from the seabed and was now 25 times the size it was on Friday.
“It’s 1,000 barrels [a day] emanating from 5,000ft below the surface,” said Rear-Admiral Mary Landry, of the US Coast Guard, who is overseeing the emergency response. “Absolutely, this is a very serious oil spill.”
BP, which leased the rig, said last week that it was doing everything in its power to contain the spill and resolve the situation “as rapidly, safely and effectively as possible”, using underwater robots, 700 personnel, five aircraft, 32 vessels, and nearly 200 miles of floating booms.