On May 13, 2010 Lower Mississippi Riverkeeper conducted an on-the-water patrol of West Bay and Southwest Pass. Leaving from Venice we made our way to the south into West Bay and then cut over into Southwest Pass and then made our way out to the Gulf facing shore of Southwest Pass. NOAA forecasting had predicted possible oil impacts there. We covered over 55 miles and (I suppose fortunately) we encountered no oil. We did see very sporadically and haphazardly deployed deflection boom along the Gulf facing shore of Southwest Pass. It was in the surf-zone and could not possibly have done anything.
Incident Command (IC) reported that the use of undersea dispersants has been approved by the EPA but as of midday May, 14 2010 undersea dispersant use had not been restarted.
IC also reported that the amount of natural gas leaking from the well has increased in recent days but is sticking to their policy of stating that "they are focusing on stopping the leak, not estimating the rate of the leak."
The "top hat" collection device has been placed on the sea floor but the implementation of it has been put on hold pending the implementation of the riser insertion tool.
The riser insertion tool is a device that will be inserted into the leaking riser pipe and fed down the pipe in an attempt to reach a point where the leaking oil can be pumped to the ship Discovery Enterprise.
A note on leak rate estimations:
On April 29, 2010 NOAA made an official estimation that the leak rate was 5,000 barrels per day. However, by May 1, 2010 NOAA and the Coast Guard changed their official position to not estimating the leak rate but preparing for a worst-case release and bringing all assets to bear.
Unfortunately, the media has latched on to the 5,000 barrels per day figure and continue to perpetuate it. BP has also continued to promote this figure as the "official" estimate.
For weeks now independent reviewers have been estimating leak rates far higher than the initial NOAA figure. Florida State University Oceanographer Ian R. MacDonald has estimated that that the leak could "easily be four or five times" the 1,000 barrel per day estimate. SkyTruth, a non-profit organization that uses remote sensing and digital mapping in response to environmental issues, estimated that the leak rate was 26,500 barrels per day based on satellite imagery they have been analyzing.
Visit SaveOurGulf.org to get more information about the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster from Waterkeeper organizations across the Gulf Coast and donate to Save Our Gulf!