An Associated Press investigation has revealed evidence that the spill is far worse than what Taylor — or the government — have publicly reported during their secretive, and costly, effort to halt the leak. Presented with AP’s findings, that the sheen recently averaged about 91 gallons of oil per day across eight square miles, the Coast Guard provided a new leak estimate that is about 20 times greater than one recently touted by the company.The Taylor spill is a curiosity because it's a bit large to have received so little attention. But the fact is spills that we never hear about happen all the time.
Outside experts say the spill could be even worse — possibly one of the largest ever in the Gulf.
Taylor’s oil was befouling the Gulf for years in obscurity before BP’s massive spill in mile-deep water outraged the nation in 2010. Even industry experts haven’t heard of Taylor’s slow-motion spill, which has been leaking like a steady trickle from a faucet, compared to the fire hose that was BP’s gusher.
A recent Department of Justice case offers a glimpse into a practice that some industry workers say is commonplace in offshore operations. The case revealed that one Gulf-based oil company failed to report a major spill it was responsible for in 2009, and had some of its workers “collect” fake water samples so that federal authorities would think no contamination occurred.
Houston-based W&T Offshore pleaded guilty in January to not alerting federal authorities about its 2009 oil spill near the Louisiana coast. Company officials also admitted to doctoring water samples taken from spill areas.
New Orleans WWL-TV investigative reporter David Hammer found from unsealed U.S. Justice Department records that W&T filtered “oil out of the water samples that were sent into a lab and recorded with the federal government. Meanwhile, the water they were dumping back into the Gulf on a constant basis stayed contaminated.”