NYT: Top kill’ strategy appears to have stemmed oil flow

The Top kill strategy, which involves alternately plugging the well with heavy “drilling mud” and “junk shot” such as shredded tires and golf balls, appears to have stemmed the flow of oil into the gulf. Adm. Thad W. Allen of the Coast Guard, the leader of the government effort, said on Friday morning that the next 12 to 18 hours will be critical. Because this is an untested procedure, Allen gives this effort a 60 to 70 percent chance of success.

Using the most conservative estimate, a minimum of 18 million gallons has leaked into the Gulf over the past five weeks, far surpassing the 11 million gallons believed to have spilled from the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska.

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NY Times: Scientists Fault U.S. Response in Assessing Gulf Oil Spill

Prominent oceanographers have accused the government of allowing BP to mask the true scope of the oil spill and of failing to perform a sufficient scientific analysis of the spill’s impact.

The scientists are most concerned about getting a clear understanding of the large oil plumes that are spreading beneath the ocean’s surface. They have also criticized the government for failing to make public a single test result on the water in the deep ocean. Scientists also say that the government has not been willing to demand an accurate calculation of how many gallons of crude the leak is expelling.

Rick Steiner, a marine biologist and veteran of the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill, attacked the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in an interview, saying that the large plumes of oil droplets beneath the surface should have been expected from the start.

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The Daily Green: The Health Effects of Oil Spills

The Gulf of Mexico oil spill will bring clean-up workers and volunteers into contact with hazardous materials that can affect human health. A review of the health impacts of five recent oil spills shows an assortment of symptoms including respiratory problems, dermatitis, headaches, throat irritation, DNA damage and depression.

Scientific studies on the health impacts of oil spills on residents, volunteers and workers were conducted following the Exxon Valdez spill of 1989, the Braer spill of 1993, the Sea Empress spill of 1996, the Erika oil spill of 1999 and the Prestige spill of 2002.

These studies show that people who live or work in these conditions are at risk for a variety of physical and mental health problems

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