Two teams of scientists working for the federal government have upped the estimates of oil flowing from the crippled Deepwater Horizon well again—this time to 25,000 to 40,000, or even 50,000, barrels a day. In case you're trying to keep track, the earlier team said 12,600 to 21,500 barrels daily billowing into the Gulf of Mexico, and BP's original estimates were a quaint 5,000 barrels.
Here's the killer: The new flow rate would mean that since the April 20 explosion, 1.3 million to 1.5 million barrels worth of oil have been dumped into the gulf, making it a whopping five to six times the amount spilled by the Exxon Valdez. And the fussing with numbers isn't just about record keeping: It matters because the fines BP owes for polluting the Gulf are based on the amount of oil, as is the number of ships needed to handle the oil. For details on how the new calculations were made, check out the story in the Washington Post.