More Alarming Spill Footage

Senators released several new terrifying videos of the well gushing oil into the Gulf yesterday. But the video below is perhaps the most shocking of all: footage of the spill site from Monday, May 17—the day after a pipe was inserted into the well to siphon a portion of the spill to the surface.

According to BP, the riser–a device that operates like a catheter–has allowed crews to capture 1,000 barrels of oil each day. That would be about one-fifth of the oil, if you believe BP’s estimate of the total size of the spill. But many people don’t think BP’s estimate is accurate. Outside estimates range from 26,000 barrels per day to 71,400. If that’s the case, siphoning off 1,000 barrels isn’t really all that much. BP, mind you, refused to release images of the spill site for weeks, and only released this new round of videos yesterday under pressure from senators. The company has clearly tried to keep the public from seeing exactly what is going on in the Gulf.

BP plans to use a “junk shot” to plug the well this weekend, a method the company describes as choking off the flow of oil and natural gas by shooting debris down the well. This is the latest effort to stop the spill—after capping it failed twice. But if the junk shot fails, experts say it would take until August for BP to drill a relief well.

So if this is what the well looks like with the temporary fix in place, we could be in for months of spillage at an unknown (and likely very high) rate.


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  • Kate Sheppard was a staff reporter in Mother Jones' Washington bureau from 2009 to 2013. She is now a senior reporter and the energy and environment editor at The Huffington Post. She can be reached by email at kate (dot) sheppard (at) huffingtonpost (dot) com and you can follow her on Twitter @kate_sheppard.