La. Oil Spill Now the Size of Rhode Island

Crews won't know until today if they're able to stop the leak
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 27, 2010 6:42 AM CDT
La. Oil Spill Now the Size of Rhode Island
In this aerial photo taken over the Gulf of Mexico, a boat and crew work in oil which leaked from a pipeline at the Deepwater Horizon oil rig off the coast of Louisiana, Monday, April 26, 2010.   (Gerald Herbert)

The oil spilling from a sunken rig in the Gulf of Mexico has grown to more than 1,800 square miles—an area larger than Rhode Island—but crews using a robot sub have yet to be able to stop the two leaks, which sit 5,000 feet below the surface. If they can't do so quickly, they might need to drill another well to redirect the oil. That process could take about two months—but the oil could reach the white-sand beaches of Florida's Panhandle and the swamps of Louisiana in as little as three days, reports the AP.

Crews are trying to activate valves in hopes of stopping the leaks, but they may not know until today if that strategy will work. "We've never seen anything like this magnitude," said an oceanographer. The Huffington Post notes that while the $600 million oil rig had passed a federal inspection as recently as April 1, relatives of the missing workers claim that both BP and rig owner TransOcean violated a number of safety statutes and regulations. The companies actively opposed new safety regulations proposed last year following a study of accidents in the industry. (More Deepwater Horizon stories.)

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