While the threat of the environmental damage to be caused by the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico appears to be growing with each passing day, BP, owner of the ruptured well from which the oil is gushing out in the sea, is still struggling to assess the quantum of oil that is making way into the water daily.
The current catastrophe is already being pegged as amongst the worst in U.S. history and could have repercussions as bad as those caused by the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil-tanker spill in Alaska.
Quantum of leak still unclear
Hitherto, a joint estimate by the BP and government officials has been 5,000 barrels a day. The drilling behemoth, however, claimed on Thursday that it was diverting 5,000 barrels of oil per day to tanker with the help of a mile-long tube; still oil persists to disgorge into the sea.
Some scientists opine that the figure of 5000 is just the tip of the iceberg and that the actual spew into the sea could be as much as 10 times the 5,000 barrel-a-day estimate.
The only silver lining in the entire episode, according to BP, is that the amount of oil making way into the water is decreasing.
Is BP doing enough?
But this assurance has not helped BP to thwart attacks. In fact, the Obama administration has condemned BP for not doing enough and not keeping the government and public apprised of the spill.
In a missive sent to the CEO of BP, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said that BP's "efforts, to date, have fallen short in both their scope and effectiveness."
"It's a very intimidating sight, the stark reality of black goop all over everything." – Ralph Portier, a professor of environmental sciences at Louisiana State University
All conceivable methods have been tried to thwart the spread of the oil. Chemicals have been sprayed to break up the spill; plastic piping has been laid all along the shoreline; the slick has been burnt in the sea in a controlled fashion and machines have been employed so as to skim the crude from the water's surface.
BP's spokesperson Toby Odone claimed that “very little oil has reached shore and that we have done everything in our powers to contain the oil out in the ocean and recover as much oil as possible."
Threat to Louisiana
Globs of oil can be seen with the naked eye in Louisiana's flimsy coastal marshes. The oil reaching the landline has jeopardized the livelihoods of scores of people who thrive on the fishing and tourism industry.
"It's a very intimidating sight, the stark reality of black goop all over everything," Ralph Portier, a professor of environmental sciences at Louisiana State University said of the situation.
Inability to quickly clean up the large amount of oil ashore would hasten the rate of coastal loss in Louisiana.