The estimate of crude oil being spilled into the Gulf of Mexico from the well head of the destroyed BP drilling platform Deepwater Horizon was revised upwards. Already experts are suggesting this may become the worst environmental disaster to hit the U.S. since the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska's Prince William Sound, and it may eclipse even that.
A glance at key statistics from the spill:
• Oil is being spilled at a rate up to 5,000 barrels (210,000 gallons) a day, or 1.6 million since the explosion occurred last week. However, The Wall Street Journal reported Friday ($) that industry experts estimate as many as 25,000 barrels of oil could be emptying into the Gulf.
• As of Saturday morning, the slick has spread to more than 130 miles long and 70 miles wide.
• Nearly 2,000 personnel are involved in the response effort with additional resources being mobilized as needed.
• 68 response vessels have been responding on site, including skimmers, tugs, barges and recovery vessels to assist in containment and cleanup efforts. In addition, six fixed-wing aircraft, 11 helicopters, 10 remotely operated vehicles, and two mobile offshore drilling units have been deployed. Two C-130 aircraft equipped with aerial spray systems were en route Friday afternoon, according to the Defense Department.
• More than 275,580 feet of boom (barrier) has been assigned to contain the spill; an additional 316,470 feet is available.
• According to BP, as of Saturday 23,968 barrels (1,006,656 gallons) of an oil-water mix have been recovered.
• As of Saturday 142,914 gallons of dispersant have been deployed; an additional 68,300 gallons are available.
• Six staging areas (Biloxi, Miss.; Pensacola, Fla.; Venice, La.; Pascagoula, Miss.; Theodore, Ala.; Fourchon, La.) have been set up to protect sensitive shorelines.