Jul 1, 2010 12:54 PM by Greg Boyce
NEW ORLEANS (AP) - BP's massive oil spill has passed a sobering benchmark.
Based on the highest of the federal government's estimates, it's now the largest ever in the Gulf of Mexico. The ruptured well has been gushing oil for two and a half months, hitting the 140.6 million gallon mark today. That tops a 140 million gallon spill of Mexico's coast that began in 1979. Using the lower end of the government's estimates, the well has spewed nearly 72 million gallons of oil.
The total does not include the amount of oil BP says it has collected using two containment systems. Researchers say measuring the spill is important to assessing its impact and the scale of restoration of recovery efforts. The numbers also help scientists figure out where the missing oil is, hidden below the water surface with some even stuck to the seafloor. Oil not at the surface damages different parts of the ecosystem.