Worst ... Oil ... Spill ... Ever
NEW ORLEANS — The BP spill is by far the world’s largest accidental release of oil into marine waters, according to the most precise estimates yet of the well’s flow rate, announced by federal scientists on Monday.
Nearly five million barrels of oil have gushed from BP’s well — and about 800,000 have been captured by containment efforts —since the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded on April 20, according to the latest data. That amount outstrips the estimated 3.3 million barrels spilled into the Bay of Campeche by the Mexican rig Ixtoc I in 1979, previously believed to be the world’s largest accidental release.
The BP spill was already thought to be the largest spill in American waters, but it was unclear whether it had eclipsed Ixtoc.
“We’ve never had a spill of this magnitude in the deep ocean,” said Ian R. MacDonald, a professor of oceanography at Florida State University.
“These things reverberate through the ecosystem,” he said. “It is an ecological echo chamber, and I think we’ll be hearing the echoes of this, ecologically, for the rest of my life.”