The Mobile Press-Register today got its hands on what the government isn't telling you.
It isn't pretty.
If what the experts fear might happen does happen, we will never have seen anything like this. Ever.
I RECOMMEND a good, stiff drink before reading the Press-Register story:
A confidential government report on the unfolding spill disaster makes clear the Coast Guard now fears the well could be on the verge of becoming an unchecked gusher shooting millions of gallons of oil per day into the Gulf. A confidential government report on the unfolding spill disaster in the Gulf makes clear the Coast Guard now fears the well could become an unchecked gusher shooting millions of gallons of oil per day into the Gulf.GOD HELP my home state.
"The following is not public," reads the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Emergency Response document dated April 28. "Two additional release points were found today in the tangled riser. If the riser pipe deteriorates further, the flow could become unchecked resulting in a release volume an order of magnitude higher than previously thought."
Asked Friday to comment on the document, NOAA spokesman Scott Smullen said that the additional leaks described were reported to the public late Wednesday night. Regarding the possibility of the spill becoming an order of magnitude larger, Smullen said, "I'm letting the document you have speak for itself."
In scientific circles, an order of magnitude means something is 10 times larger. In this case, an order of magnitude higher would mean the volume of oil coming from the well could be 10 times higher than the 5,000 barrels a day coming out now. That would mean 50,000 barrels a day, or 2.1 million gallons a day. It appears the new leaks mentioned in the Wednesday release are the leaks reported to the public late Wednesday night.
"There is no official change in the volume released but the USCG is no longer stating that the release rate is 1,000 barrels a day," continues the document, referred to as report No. 12. "Instead they are saying that they are preparing for a worst-case release and bringing all assets to bear."
The emergency document also states that the spill has grown in size so quickly that only 1 to 2 percent of it has been sprayed with dispersants.
The Press-Register obtained the emergency report from a government official. The White House, NOAA, the Coast Guard and BP Plc did not immediately return calls for comment made early this morning.
The worst-case scenario for the broken and leaking well pouring oil into the Gulf of Mexico would be the loss of the wellhead and kinked piping currently restricting the flow to 5,000 barrels -- or 210,000 gallons -- per day.
If the wellhead is lost, oil could leave the well at a much greater rate.
"Typically, a very good well in the Gulf can produce 30,000 barrels a day, but that's under control. I have no idea what an uncontrolled release could be," said Stephen Sears, chairman of the petroleum engineering department at Louisiana State University.