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Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Disaster Getting Worse

Apr 30, 2010 | Parker Waichman LLP

The federal government now says as much as 25,000 barrels of oil per day could be spilling from the sight of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico.

Best estimates right now is that it will take 90 days to cap the leaking well, which sits 5,000 feet below the ocean’s surface. Crews will face difficulties this weekend, the Journal said, as predicted storms could push tide waters higher than normal. The potential for storms is already hampering efforts to position containment booms in the Gulf. Winds and waves kept oil skimming boats from operating today.

The massive spill is now washing up on shore, and has reached the mouth of the Mississippi Delta. is reporting that the first oil-coated bird has been found offshore in Louisiana. Workers with Tri-State Bird Rescue and Research, which is based in Delaware, used Dawn blue dishwashing soap to scrub the oil off the animal. Rescuers expect more such animals will start being found as the day goes on.

Louisiana has declared a state of emergency, and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal has called up 6,000 National Guard troops.

Florida Gov. Charlie Crist has declared a state of emergency in several Panhandle coastal counties, including Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, Walton, Bay and Gulf Counties. The Florida order designates the director of the Division of Emergency Management as state coordinating officer and orders activation of the Florida National Guard.

BP, which leased Deepwater Horizon from TransOcean LTD, is responsible for the cleanup of the spill. The company has asked the Department of Defense for help activating the rig’s blowout preventer, a system of valves that is designed to seal off the well when it surges out of control. BP’s previous efforts to activate the valves with underwater remote control vehicles have failed thus far. It is asking the military for better imaging technology and more advanced remotely operated vehicles, according to The New York Times said.

The Navy at Gulfport, Miss., is preparing to deploy seven oil skimmers, and two Air Force C-130s have been sent to Mississippi and were awaiting orders to start dumping chemicals on the oil spill. The U.S. Northern Command, which was created in 2002 specifically to help civilian authorities, is expecting orders to activate assets, said.

It’s likely that the Deepwater Horizon oil spill will turn out to be one of the worst in U.S history. According to The Wall Street Journal, if it turns out that the 25,000 barrel estimate is correct, it may already rival the historic 1969 Santa Barbara, Calif., and 1989 Exxon Valdez disasters.

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