“The Gulf Coast spill will have eclipsed the Exxon Valdez in terms of total gallons of oil before the weekend is over — making it the largest oil spill in U.S. history — according to calculations made by oceanographer Ian MacDonald after studying aerial Coast Guard photos taken earlier in the week.
MacDonald, a professor at Florida State University who counts “oil and gas development” among his areas of expertise, stopped short of comparing the Deepwater Horizon spill to that of the Alaskan oil tanker, but said Saturday, “The spill is growing. I’m comfortable saying that the size and extent of this slick is 10 million gallons.”
Given that just over a million gallons are leaking into the Gulf per day, according to MacDonald’s calculations, the spill will shortly top the Exxon Valdez’s estimated 11-million-gallon spill.”
With that in mind, consider that the effects of the Valdez spill are still being felt—20 years later:
“The amount of Exxon Valdez oil remaining substantially exceeds the sum total of all previous oil pollution on beaches in Prince William Sound…This Exxon Valdez oil is decreasing at a rate of 0-4% per year, with only a 5% chance that the rate is as high as 4%. At this rate, the remaining oil will take decades and possibly centuries to disappear entirely.
…surveys outside Prince William Sound have documented lingering oil also on the Kenai Peninsula and the Katmai coast, over 450 miles away.”
Now take this: