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COVINGTON, La. — The Gulf oil spill has surpassed the Exxon Valdez as the worst in U.S. history, according to new estimates released Thursday, but the Coast Guard and BP said an untested procedure to stop it seemed to be working.
A team of scientists trying to figure out how much oil has been flowing since the offshore rig Deepwater Horizon exploded April 20 and sank two days later found the rate was at least twice and possibly up to five times as high as previously thought.
Even using the most conservative estimate, that means the leak has grown to nearly 19 million gallons, surpassing the size of the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster, which at about 11 million gallons had been the nation's worst spill. Under the highest estimate, nearly 39 million gallons may have spilled.
U.S. Geological Survey Director Marcia McNutt said two different teams of scientists calculated that the well has been spewing between 504,000 and more than 1 million gallons a day.