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SIZE MATTERS - Tell Obama & Congress to immediately order independent measurement of oil leak

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I began this petition over three weeks ago, and the government is STILL willfully suppressing the true oil flow estimates from BP oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico.  From the Huffington Post - I highly recommend you read the entire article at this leak:

"For more than a month after the well blew out, BP and the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) had been estimating the flow at 5,000 barrels, or about 210,000 gallons, a day. NOAA based its number on the amount of oil visible on the surface of the Gulf -- and stuck to that, even after marine scientists pointed out that due to the depth of the leak and the use of dispersants, a high proportion of the oil was staying beneath the surface.

Media reports continued to use that figure even after a video clip of the spewing pipe exposed it as a farce. Finally on May 27, the Interior Department issued a press release, describing 12,000 to 19,000 barrels as a "preliminary best estimate" of the flow.

Two members of the team did tell PBS the next day that the 12,000 to 19,000 figure was just the range of the "lower bound." Yet the figure was widely accepted as the entire range of possibilities.

One of the methods the team used to arrive at its numbers was based on an estimate of the oil detected on the ocean surface. The new report states that: "The team then corrected the value for oil evaporated, skimmed, burned, and dispersed up to that day and divided by time to produce an average rate."

But there is nothing remotely like agreement in the scientific community about how much of the oil remains beneath the surface. Some scientists think the vast majority remains suspended in the water column. By contrast, NOAA's director has a hard time acknowledging there is any at all.

How the flow-rate team "corrected" for something they didn't know about remains a secret. Overall, however, even including the amount of oil evaporated, skimmed or burned, the team's lower bound for the flow amounted to less than double the amount visible on the surface.

And the new document acknowledges that further scientific investigation could push its estimates higher, due to "unknown processes that remove oil naturally from the system" as well as "unknown unknowns."

Another estimation method involved calculating the size of the plume based on video from the sea floor. It had a whole different set of challenges, including a limited window of data (seven minutes!), poor quality footage, an untested methodology and a series of assumptions that may or may not have been correct.

The scientists pursuing that method also found their guesswork limited by "the effect of the unknown unknowns" which "made it more difficult to produce a reliable upper bound on the flow rate." (end Huffington Post quotation).


Since the beginning, the scope and magnitude of the unprecedented environmental catastrophe in the Gulf has been deliberately minimized by the Obama administration and the executives at BP.

For three weeks, the video of the oil gushing from one mile below the sea had been playing in a constant stream in the White House situation room. The White House held to the phony estimate of 250,000 gallons a day although they had visual proof that the calculation was wrong.  Additionally, the 250,000 a day number was calculated with a formula specifically NOT recommended for measuring large oil spills.   Independent scientists and academic experts were able to ascertain with the release of this video to the public that the size of the oil spill greatly exceeded BP & government estimates.  According to a May 14, New York Times Article, scientists estimate the sea floor to be leaking 25,000 to 80,000 barrels of oil a day.  Additionally, the discover of giant underwater oil plumes (one as long as 10 miles long, three miles wide, & 300 feet thick) prove that the size of the oil spill eclipses the low estimates ascerted from the government & BP.

Scientists note that the size of the oil spill is directly related to the amount of environmental damage and it is crucial to obtain a accurate measurement.  Additionally, proper measurement of the oil leak is imperative for recovery calculations.

It is also CRUCIAL to obtain an accurate measurement now because BP is liable under the Clean Water Act for up to 3,000 dollars per barrel fine, in the case of gross negligence (which early reports indicate).  It is imperative to gain an accurate measurement of the current oil gusher, in order to garner BP's owed fines.  BP has a legal responsibility to compensate for all damages from the leak.

Unfortuately, the President, himself continues to obfuscate the true scope and size of this spill.  On May 14, 2010, President Obama made this statement on the size of the oil spill:

"I know there have been varying reports over the last few days about how large the leak is," President Obama said yesterday. "But since no one can get down there in person, we know there is a level of uncertainty."

Actually, there is a method that would allow for accurate measurement of the oil and gas blasting from well. Here is a much read snippet from the recent NY Times article on this subject:

"BP has repeatedly said that its highest priority is stopping the leak, not measuring it. "There's just no way to measure it," Kent Wells, a BP senior vice president, said in a recent briefing.

Yet for decades, specialists have used a technique that is almost tailor-made for the problem. With undersea gear that resembles the ultrasound machines in medical offices, they measure the flow rate from hot-water vents on the ocean floor. Scientists said that such equipment could be tuned to allow for accurate measurement of oil and gas flowing from the well.

Richard Camilli and Andy Bowen, of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts, who have routinely made such measurements, spoke spoke extensively to BP last week, Mr. Bowen said. They were poised to fly to the gulf to conduct volume measurements.

But they were contacted late in the week and told not to come, at around the time BP decided to lower a large metal container to try to capture the leak. That maneuver failed. They have not been invited again.

 This is outrageous and completely unacceptable.

It is time that the public demand oversight of this unprecedented environmental disaster.  It is clear that we will not receive clear and honest answers from BP executives.  Please sign the petition and tell this President and Congress that we must allow immediate measurement of the leak from independent scientists.

And, please pass this petition along to your friends.

Thank you

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