Fri, Apr 30, 2010 - Page 7 News List

Louisiana coastline under threat as more oil spilled

AFP , NEW ORLEANS

A giant oil slick threatened yesterday to pollute the fragile wetlands of Louisiana, as officials said that toxic crude was pouring into the Gulf of Mexico five times faster than previously thought.

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal called on the US government for emergency help to stave off an environmental disaster after a sudden change in the wind direction turned week-long response efforts on their head.

In another massive blow, the US government’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced that more than 757,000 liters of oil a day were now thought to be streaming into the sea from the debris of the Deepwater Horizon rig, which sank off the US southern coast last week following a deadly explosion.

British energy giant British Petroleum (BP), which leases the rig and has been leading the response to the disaster along with the US Coast Guard, acknowledged the new leak, but said it believed the flow of oil was unchanged at 1,000 barrels, or 159,000 liters, a day.

Jindal said NOAA reports also suggested that a portion of the slick, which has a 965km circumference, had broken off and because of strong onshore winds could hit coastal nature reserves as early yesterday.

“At this time, the Pass-A-Loutre Wildlife Management Area is expected to see the first impact of the oil spill,” he said, adding that he had spoken to US Homeland Security chief Janet Napolitano to seek additional assistance.

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