The White House escalated its response Thursday to the growing oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, and a local official said the massive slick is projected to reach the Louisiana coast late Thursday.
The oil “is already in state waters” and will reach the Pass-a-Loutre Wildlife Management Area, near the southernmost tip of the state later Thursday, Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser said after a meeting with council members and a congressman to discuss the emergency.
The prospects for slowing the spread of the oil appear dim, and the slick threatens to cause significant environmental damage and disruption to business along the Gulf Coast.
It appears that the oil well, damaged after a Transocean Ltd. rig hired by BP exploded and sank last week, is leaking 5,000 barrels of oil a day, five times the rate thought earlier this week, officials said. The slick spans about 600 square miles.
Officials emphasized that BP will be legally responsible for the cost of the clean-up, and said the U.S. demands the strongest response possible from the company. They declined to provide a price estimate for the costs. BP has said that it is spending $6 million a day to combat the oil spill. It is unclear what the cost, including federal support, will total.
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