Officials detected a new leak Wednesday night in the pipe connected to the sunken BP oil rig off the Louisiana coast.
“I’m very, very confident this leak is new,” Doug Suttles, chief operating officer for exploration and production for BP, told The New York Times.
The federal National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration says that the discovery of this, the third known leak, means five times as much oil--5,000 barrels or 210,000 gallons--is being released into the Gulf of Mexico per day. Two leaks in a pipe connected to the rig had previously been detected. The pipe began to leak after last week's explosion and fire aboard Deepwater Horizon, the Transocean Ltd. oil rig contracted by BP. Although BP is responsible for the clean-up efforts, the company has welcomed help from the U.S. military due to the increased volume of the spill.
To contain the massive oil slick, which The Times reports is now just 16 miles from the Louisiana coast, the Coast Guard is burning petroleum in the areas of the slick that contain the thickest oil. The first burn was deemed successful and was performed yesterday afternoon. The burns are being used because wildlife is more likely to escape safely from smoke and fire than from an oil slick.
UPDATE SINCE THIS STORY FIRST WAS POSTED: This story has been updated to include the news that the U.S. military will help BP with the clean-up effort.