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Sensors set up to track oil spill

Andrew Browne, [email protected]

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SCHRIEVER – Undersea sensors were being deployed to a ruptured well in the Gulf of Mexico yesterday in an effort to better track the amount of oil gushing into the sea, the Coast Guard said, as pressure mounted on BP to create special accounts that would set aside billions of dollars to pay for spill-related claims.
New estimates say the blown-out well could have been spewing as much as two million gallons of crude a day before a cut-and-cap manoeuvre earlier this month started capturing some of the flow.
This means more than 100 million gallons may have leaked into the Gulf since the start of the disaster in April – more than nine times the size of the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster, previously the worst oil spill in American history.
Scientists have struggled to pin down just how much oil is spilling into the Gulf, and the government has stressed that the larger estimates were still preliminary and considered a worse-case scenario.
The lead scientist in the effort said last week that the most credible range at the moment is between 840 000 gallons and 1.68 million gallons daily.
The Obama administration’s coordinator on the oil spill, Admiral Thad Allen, said the sensors were going to be deployed yesterday and would start taking pressure readings to validate the estimates, which have been made by using such things as spillcam video and sonar readings.
“I’ve told everybody from the start these are only estimates. We will only know what is flowing out of that well when we have it completely capped, control the flow, can actually measure,” Allen told CBS’ Face The Nation yesterday.
Days after the spill began, government officials told the public that the ruptured well a mile below the Gulf was leaking 42 000 gallons a day. Then, officials said it was actually five times bigger. That estimate didn’t last long either. (AP)