The estimate of crude oil being spilled into the Gulf of Mexico from the well head of the destroyed BP drilling platform Deepwater Horizon was revised upwards. Already experts are suggesting this may become the worst environmental disaster to hit the U.S. since the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska's Prince William Sound, and it may eclipse even that.
A glance at key statistics from the spill:
• Oil is being spilled at a rate up to 5,000 barrels (210,000 gallons) a day.
• As of Friday morning, the spill has spread to cover 2,100 square miles.
• It could take up to three months to drill a relief well to plug the leak. At the current rate of leakage, this spill would eclipse the Exxon Valdez disaster, which dumped 11 million gallons of oil into Alaska's Prince William Sound in 1989.
• Eleven people remain unaccounted for following the April 20 explosion on the Deepwater Horizon rig; 115 were evacuated, including 17 who were injured, 3 critically. 1 injured person remains in the hospital.
• Nearly 2,000 personnel are involved in the response effort with additional resources being mobilized as needed.
• 79 response vessels have been responding on site, including skimmers, tugs, barges and recovery vessels to assist in containment and cleanup efforts. In addition, six fixed-wing aircraft, 11 helicopters, 10 remotely operated vehicles, and two mobile offshore drilling units have been deployed. Two C-130 aircraft equipped with aerial spray systems were en route Friday afternoon, according to the Defense Department.
• More than 217,000 feet of boom (barrier) has been assigned to contain the spill; an additional 305,760 feet is available.
• According to BP, as of Friday 20,313 barrels (853,146 gallons) of an oil-water mix have been recovered, an increase of 90,000 gallons from Thursday.
• 139,459 gallons of dispersant have been deployed; an additional 51,000 gallons are available. 51,000 gallons more are on hand.
• Six staging areas (Biloxi, Miss.; Pensacola, Fla.; Venice, La.; Pascagoula, Miss.; Theodore, Ala.; Fourchon, La.) have been set up to protect sensitive shorelines.
• More than 400 species of wildlife, including whales and dolphins, face a dire threat from the spill, along with Louisiana's barrier islands and marshlands. In the national refuges most at risk, about 34,000 birds have been counted, including gulls, pelicans, roseate spoonbills, egrets, shore birds, terns and blue herons.
More on the Gulf rig disaster:
Weather Hurts Gulf Oil Fight; Wildlife in Peril
Oil Spill: What Went Wrong?
Oil Spill Creeping Toward U.S. Coast
Pentagon's "Full-Blown Effort" to Halt Spill
Obama on Oil Rig Cleanup
Oil Leak May be 5 Times Worse than Initial Claim
BP Exec: Size of Leak Won't Change our Response
Crews Start Burning Gulf Oil Slick
Fighting Oil with Fire
Man-Made Disaster in the Gulf
New Oil-Rig Safety Rules Eyed Before Blast