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May 17, 2010

Spill May Be Headed for Florida Keys

It’s hard to believe it has been almost a month since the Deepwater Horizon exploded and sank, and yet this weekend was the first sign of any kind of progress to contain the disaster bleeding into the Gulf.

Using a mile-long “insertion tube” to siphon the oil to a tanker ship, BP captured some of the oil gushing from the Gulf of Mexico seabed — though the company still hasn’t made any progress toward actually stopping the flow.

Scientists from NOAA are worried that the still-gushing oil spill will enter the powerful Loop Current, if it hasn’t already, which would take it through the biodiverse barrier reef that makes up the Florida Keys and up the East Coast.

Meanwhile, scientists have found massive oil plumes — an estimated 15 to 20 miles long and 4 to 5 miles wide — in the Gulf. The plumes are depleting oxygen levels, which spells danger for the sea life in or near the plumes, including fish, marine mammals, sea turtles and corals.

In addition, scientists are taking a skeptical look at the 210,000 gallons a day estimate that has been widely reported and accepted. Some are now saying that the rate could be as high as 3.4 million gallons per day, though BP is refusing to allow them to use more sophisticated methods to get a better idea of the flow rate.

And in a 60 Minutes report last night, Deepwater Horizon engineer Mike Williams said that the rig’s blowout preventer was damaged in a test weeks before the blowout — and he suggested that both Transocean and BP engineers were aware of the problem, but were in a hurry to begin the drilling process.

What’s more, Williams, said, a day before the disaster on April 20 there was disagreement between Transocean and BP over how to plug the well, and the resulting actions seem to be at the root of the blowout’s cause. Watch this video for more:

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We’ll keep you informed as we learn more about the causes and effects of this catastrophe. In the meantime, sign the petition to stop new offshore drilling today.