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BP admits it’s numbers on leak are wrong.

by admin on May 20th, 2010

BP now says they have no idea how much oil is leaking into the gulf and that they are recovering at least the amount of oil they originally said was leaking every day. ThisCBS News article also includes some video footage if you go to their home page.

(CBS/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 month-long 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. He would not say how much.

Several professors who have watched video of the leak have already said they believe the amount gushing out is much higher than the official estimates.

Special Section: Disaster in the Gulf

Proegler said the 210,000 gallons — 5,000 barrels — has always been just an estimate because there is no way to measure how much is spilling from the seafloor.

“I would encourage people to take a look at the changing amount of oil coming from the ocean floor,” said Steve Rinehart, another BP spokesman. “It’s pretty clear that now that we’re taking 5,000 barrels of oil a day, there’s a significant change in the flow reaching the sea.”

U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said the “government will be making its own, independent verification of what those total numbers are,” during an appearance on CBS’ “The Early Show” Thursday.

“We don’t know whether [the damage is] going to be minimal or not. It could be catastrophic,” U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said, adding that BP is “on the hook to make sure that everything is made whole including the environment and the people that will be affected.”

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

The well blew out after an explosion a month ago on the offshore drilling rig Deepwater Horizon that killed 11 people.

Independent scientists began forming their own estimates after BP succumbed to pressure to release video footage of the blown-out well. Steve Wereley, a mechanical engineer at Purdue University in Indiana, told The Associated Press that he is sticking with his estimate that 3.9 million gallons a day is spewing from two leaks.

“I don’t see any scenario where (BP’s) numbers would be accurate,” he said at a congressional hearing Wednesday.

His estimate of the amount leaked to date, which he calls conservative and says has a margin of error of plus or minus 20 percent, is 126 million gallons – or more than 11 times the total leaked from the Exxon Valdez disaster in 1989.

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.

“This is the heavy oil that everyone’s been fearing that is here now,” Jindal said during a boat tour. The wetlands at the mouth of the Mississippi are home to rare birds, mammals and a wide variety of marine life.

Much of southeast Louisiana’s coastal waters have been closed to fishing and oyster harvesting because of the oil. A vast area stretching east toward Florida in federal waters also has been closed to seafood harvesting.

Officials in Florida sought to reassure tourists that the state’s beaches are clean and safe as government scientists said 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.

During a news conference, David Halstead, director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management, showed off a picture of a Coppertone bottle on a beach.

“What’s the only oil on the beaches? Suntan oil,” he said.

Tracking the unpredictable spill and the complex loop current is a challenge for scientists, said Charlie Henry, a NOAA environmental scientist.

The loop moves based on shifting winds and other environmental factors, so even though oil is leaking continuously it may be in the current one day, and out the next. The slick itself has defied scientists’ efforts to track it and predict its path. Instead, it has repeatedly advanced and retreated, an ominous, shape-shifting mass in the Gulf, with vast underwater lobes extending outward.

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