The broken oil pipes of the sunken Deepwater Horizon are pouring 70,000 barrels of oil into the waters of the Gulf of Mexico daily, according to a scientist who analyzed the video of the pipe released by BP. At 42 gallons per barrel, that’s 2.9 million gallons of oil every day, or the equivalent of the Exxon Valdez every four days.

But sophisticated scientific analysis of seafloor video made available Wednesday by the oil company BP shows that the true figure is closer to 70,000 barrels a day, NPR’s Richard Harris reports.

That means the oil spilling into the Gulf has already far exceeded the equivalent of the 1989 Exxon Valdez tanker accident in Alaska, which spilled at least 250,000 barrels of oil.

The analysis was conducted by Steve Werely, an associate professor at Purdue University, using a technique called particle image velocimetry. Harris tells Michele Norris that the method is accurate to a degree of plus or minus 20 percent. That means the flow could range between 56,000 barrels a day and 84,000 barrels a day.

This new estimate is far higher than the 210,000 gallons estimated by the NOAA and Coast Guard, a figure released early on in the disaster. Behind closed doors yesterday, oil executives privately told members of Congress that they feared the leak could release up to 60,000 barrels daily.

Unfortunately, an analysis of BP’s own video by show the oil executives’ estimate is a conservative one. One analysis suggested the disaster could leak as much as 100,000 barrels a day, or 4.2 million gallons.

But hey, It’s just a tiny part of the ocean. Nothing to see here, move along people.

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