In Louisiana, mixed news from the frontline of the catastophic oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.
Marine scientists have found a giant plumes of oil coagulating deep under the surface of the water, raising concerns that the spill might be a lot larger than originally estimated. There are three or four plumes, including one reported by the New York Times to be "as large as 10 miles long, 3 miles wide and 300 feet thick in spots."
"It could take years, possibly decades, for the system to recover from an infusion of this quantity of oil and gas," said University of Georgia scientist Samantha Joye. "We've never seen anything like this before. It's impossible to fathom the impact."
Scientists studying video of the gushing oil well say that it could be flowing at a rate of 25,000 to 80,000 barrels of oil a day. But BP officials are sticking to the original estimate of 5,000 barrels a day, while acknowledging that they have no way of knowing for sure.
Meanwhile, efforts to siphon oil from the damaged well met with some success on the weekend, offering a ray of hope that the spill can be contained. Oil company engineers attached a mile-long tube to the blown well, diverting crude to a tanker. Exactly how much of the gushing oil is being captured by the tube isn't clear.
The permanent solution, drilling a relief well to divert the oil before it reaches the collapsed rig, is still months away.
Photo: Veterinarians working for US Fish and Wildlife Services bathe a brown pelican at Fort Jackson Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre in Buras, Louisiana. (Reuters)