Taylor's oil spill is up to a thousand times worse than the company's estimates, the study says
A new federal study estimates that every day about 380 to 4,500 liters of oil is floating on the site where a company's oil platform was damaged after a hurricane. It's about a hundred to a thousand times worse than the company's original estimate, which sets the amount of oil flowing into the ocean at less than three liters per day.
The report, released this week and written by researchers at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and one at Florida State University, also opposed claims by Taylor Energy Company on where the oil comes from.
The leak started in 2004 when an oil platform belonging to the Taylor Energy Company was damaged by a mudslide after Hurricane Ivan struck the Gulf of Mexico. A pile of pipes and wells sank to the seabed and was partially buried under mud and sediment.
To respond to the leak, Taylor Energy attempted to close nine of the wells and place containment vouchers over three of the plums in 2008.
But after local activists observed several oil spills near the Deepwater Horizon Games in 201
0, Taylor began oil spill to get national attention. And in May, the US Coast Guard installed a containment system that has collected 30 barrels, or about 1,260 gallons, a day to obtain the oil that continues to wave in the ocean.
The study contradicts the owner's conclusions
Taylor Energy liquidated its oil and gas assets and quit production and drilling in 2008, saying on its website that it exists solely to respond to emissions. It claims that all oil and gas that now leaks on the site comes from oil-drained sediment and bacterial degradation of the oil.
The federal government's study suggests something else.
"This shows that it actually comes from the reservoirs, from these oil pipes, and not from the residual oil at the bottom of the ocean," Andrew Mason, one of the study authors, told CNN.
To reach this provision, scientists gather samples from below the surface using two methods. Previous studies had either used oil gap samples on the ocean surface or measurements from moving over the site.
Using an acoustic device, researchers estimate that 9 to 47 barrels, or 380-1,900 gallons of oil, leak daily. Another unit called a bubblometer set that estimates at 19 to 108 barrels, or about 800 to 4500 liters, a day.
The report notes that the sites are estimates and do not necessarily represent a final, definite government estimate of the oil capability released on the spot.
Efforts to stop the leak
Mason called the US Coast Guard's containment system "a great step forward," but said it still allows some oil to leak out. He also warned that it was not a permanent solution, as the containment system would begin to degrade the longer it is in the sea, and said the authorities needed to enter and disconnect the remaining 16 wells.
Taylor Energy has argued that intervening further could release more oil and adversely affect the environment.
In a statement to CNN, the company said it had not seen the data in the latest government report and could not confirm the accuracy. It adds that it "continues to advocate an answer grounded in science and prioritizes the well-being of the environment."
Mason said the study helps establish the scope of the problem.
"This has been a great step forward to definitely say what's happening on this site so we can continue to say" It's no problem "to say," Okay, that's a problem and how to fix we do it now? "he said.