Well beneath sunken rig has serious oil leak
An oil well on the ocean floor beneath a drilling rig that exploded and sank into the Gulf of Mexico began spewing oil on Saturday, the U.S. Coast Guard said.
The well, 5,000 feet beneath the ocean surface, was leaking about 1,000 barrels per day of oil, a Coast Guard spokeswoman said, in what the agency called a "very serious spill." Remote underwater vehicles detected oil leaking from the riser and drill pipe, the spokeswoman said.
"We are classifying this as a very serious spill and we are using all our resources to help contain it," Coast Guard Petty Officer Connie Terrell said.
Transocean Ltd's Deepwater Horizon sank on Thursday after burning since Tuesday following an explosion while finishing a well for BP Plc 42 miles off the Louisiana coast. The Coast Guard on Friday suspended a search for 11 missing workers from the rig, who are presumed dead.
BP has deployed an armada of ships and aircraft to contain the oil slick, which could threaten Louisiana's fragile coastline if it is not contained. Cleanup operations are currently on hold due to stormy seas, Terrell said.
So far, the spill is not comparable with the Exxon Valdez disaster, which spilled about 11 million gallons (50 million liters) of oil into the Prince William Sound in Alaska when it ran aground in 1989. The Transocean well is spewing about 42,000 gallons (190,900 liters) of oil a day into the ocean, the Coast Guard estimates.
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