The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) published a report Monday detailing how many gallons of oil have been spilling a day since powerful waves from 2004's Hurricane Ivan caused an off-shore oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico to fall into the ocean, spewing oil onto the ocean floor.
With it fell the 28 pipes that were pulling the oil from deep beneath the ocean floor. “It’s a very complex, complicated system, and it all has to be taken into account,” said author Andrew Mason, a physical scientist at NOAA’s Center for Coastal Monitoring and Assessment, to Earther. “You have buried pipes, broken pipes, a combination of oil and gas, and all this is potentially broken.
Last year, after NOAA’s initial findings, the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement installed a separate containment system, which has been collecting some 30,000 gallons of oil over 30 days, per the report.
While past estimates involved examining satellite images of oil slicks on the surface of the ocean, this study took this analysis a step further by coupling that data set with independent samples taken from the water and sediment near the disaster site in September 2018.
Developer Taylor Energy Company, which shut down in 2008, has maintained that the incident has resulted in 3 to 5 gallons leaking a day since the disaster, according to E&E News.
This March 31, 2015, aerial file photo shows an oil sheen from the former Taylor Energy oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico, off the coast of Louisiana.