The sinking of Deepwater Horizon could be catastrophic for Mississippi’s coastline if hundreds of thousands of gallons of crude oil makes its way ashore.
Coast Guard and oil company officials at a news conference Thursday said it was not clear whether the 18,000-foot-deep well was still leaking.
Environmental threats include the 336,000 gallons of oil a day that had been spurting from the rig before it sank, though nearly all of it was burning off in the incessant fire, Coast Guard firefighter Katherine McNamara told the Associated Press.
Coast Guard cutters Zephyr, a patrol boat homeported in Pascagoula, and Cobia, a patrol boat out of Mobile, are involved in the search for 11 rig workers missing since the explosion.
Coast Guard Rear Adm. Mary E. Landry said that the probability of the crewmembers’ survival was decreasing, despite warm waters and calm seas.
At least 700,000 gallons of diesel fuel was in a tank on the rig, but that could have been consumed in the fire before the rig sank, said Doug Helton, incident operations coordinator for the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration’s office of response and restoration.
“The diesel fuel, if it didn’t burn off, will evaporate and not come to shore,” he said.