If anyone has any useful volunteer info, please PM it to me so I may add it here.
NY Times- Size of Spill in Gulf of Mexico Is Larger Than Thought
So yeah, this just keeps getting worse and worse.
Here are some highlights from the article.
NEW ORLEANS — Government officials said late Wednesday night that oil might be leaking from a well in the Gulf of Mexico at a rate five times that suggested by initial estimates.
An explosion and fire on a drilling rig on April 20 left 11 workers missing and presumed dead. The rig sank two days later about 50 miles off the Louisiana coast.
“The leaks on the sea floor are being visually gauged from the video feed” from the remote vehicles that have been surveying the riser, said Doug Helton, a fisheries biologist who coordinates oil spill responses for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, in an e-mail message Wednesday night. “That takes a practiced eye. Like being able to look at a garden hose and judge how many gallons a minute are being discharged. The surface approach is to measure the area of the slick, the percent cover, and then estimate the thickness based on some rough color codes.”
Wind patterns may push the spill into the coast of Louisiana as soon as Friday night, officials said, prompting consideration of more urgent measures to protect coastal wildlife. Among them were using cannons to scare off birds and employing local shrimpers’ boats as makeshift oil skimmers in the shallows.
On Wednesday evening, cleanup crews began conducting what is called an in-situ burn, a process that consists of corralling concentrated parts of the spill in a 500-foot-long fireproof boom, moving it to another location and burning it. It has been tested effectively on other spills, but weather and ecological concerns can complicate the procedure.
And here's the kicker.
Walter Chapman, director of the Energy and Environmental Systems Institute at Rice University, said a 50 percent burn-off for oil within the booms would be considered a success. Admiral Landry called the burn “one tool in a tool kit” to tackle the spill. Other tactics include: using remote-controlled vehicles to shut off the well at its source on the sea floor, an operation that has so far been unsuccessful; dropping domes over the leaks at the sea floor and routing the oil to the surface to be collected, an operation untested at such depths that would take at least two to four more weeks; and drilling relief wells to stop up the gushing cavity with concrete, mud or other heavy liquid, a solution that is months away.
The array of strategies underscores the unusual nature of the leak. Pipelines have ruptured and tankers have leaked, but a well 5,000 feet below the water’s surface poses new challenges, officials said.
This is pretty horrible stuff. The coastlines of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and the Florida Panhandle are under threat. The Gulf Coast fishing industry is going to get hit hard by this, and if it hits the shore so is the tourist industry that is vital to the Gulf Coast. As a resident of the Gulf Coast, I'm terrified. It just keeps hitting me in waves. All I can think about is that the lives everyone has built here are in jeopardy. The economic fallout is going to hit us on a national level most likely.
This image in the spoiler was captured on the 27th.
I'm having a hard time remembering the last time I was this scared. This is bad, and I fear it could become a disaster of unprecedented proportions.
New Estimate! Possibly 25,000 Barrels a Day!
Gulf oil spill swiftly balloons, could move east
NOAA Website Devoted to Deepwater Horizon Incident
Here's a report on NOAA's latest worst case scenario.
Sand is an integral part of the formations that hold oil under the Gulf. That sand, carried in the oil as it shoots through the piping, is blamed for the ongoing erosion described by BP.
"The pipe could disintegrate. You've got sand getting into the pipe, it's eroding the pipe all the time, like a sandblaster," said Ron Gouget, a former oil spill response coordinator for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
"When the oil is removed normally, it comes out at a controlled rate. You can still have abrasive particles in that. Well, now, at this well, its coming out at fairly high velocity," Gouget continued. "Any erosive grains are abrading the inside of the pipe and all the steel that comes in contact with the liquid. It's essentially sanding away the pipe."
Gouget said the loss of a wellhead is totally unprecedented.
"How bad it could get from that, you will have a tremendous volume of oil that is going to be offgassing on the coast. Depending on how much wind is there, and how those gases build up, that's a significant health concern," he said.
-Mobile Press Register
. This reads like a pretty sanitized version of what's going on in the Gulf but there are lots of maps, documents and forecasts in handy pdf format.
Image captured on May 1st.
Why is Jeff Childs a massive douchebag, you ask? Read the next two links;
BP official: 'We've significantly cut the flow' of oil from damaged rig
BP says oil flow from Deepwater Horizon remains unchanged, refuting executive
These were both linked by a site linked on the NOAA site, so I'm guessing the non-verified one is legit.
edit: Also useful: http://www.incidentnews.gov/incident/8220