Nation/World Briefly: New oil leak found in area of sunken rig

  • Wed Apr 28th, 2010 10:22pm
  • News

NEW ORLEANS — A new oil leak was discovered at the site in the Gulf of Mexico where a drilling rig exploded and sank last week, and experts now estimate that five times more has been spilling into the water a day than previously believed, the Coast Guard said late Wednesday.

However, an official from BP PLC, which leases the rig, said he did not believe the newly discovered leak has increased the amount of oil spilling into the water beyond earlier estimates. Coast Guard Rear Adm. Mary Landry disagreed with his statement at a news conference and said she was relying on a new estimate from the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration.

She said NOAA experts now estimate that 5,000 barrels a day of oil are spilling into the gulf. Officials had estimated the leak for days at 1,000 barrels a day.

The news came hours after crews tried a test burn on the massive spill to try to slow it from reaching the U.S. shoreline.

They had estimated about 42,000 gallons of oil a day was leaking into the Gulf from the blown-out well drilled by the Deepwater Horizon oil rig. Eleven workers are missing and presumed dead in the April 20 accident. That would be closer to 210,000 gallons a day with the new estimates. The cause of the explosion has not been determined.

California: Cluster of volcanos discovered under water

Scientists have discovered a cluster of underwater asphalt volcanoes rising from the sea floor just off the coast of Santa Barbara, the researchers announced Wednesday. The seven volcanoes, about 65 feet tall, probably last disgorged petroleum and natural gas into the seas 30,000 to 40,000 years ago, during the most recent ice age, according to geochemist David Valentine of the University of California, Santa Barbara. The volcanoes are located in an area of the sea floor where layers of sediment have provided researchers with a kind of geophysical archive, like bands of a tree trunk. There also are tar deposits filled with remnants of ancient marine life.

Arizona: Referendum could delay immigration law until 2012

A referendum drive launched Wednesday could put Arizona’s tough new law targeting illegal immigration on hold until 2012 if organizers wait until the last minute to turn in petition signatures needed to get the measure on the ballot. Opponents of the law have until late July or early August to file the more than 76,000 signatures — the same time the law is set to go into effect. If they get enough signatures, the law would be delayed until a vote. But the deadline to put a question on the November ballot is July 1, and a referendum filing later than that could delay a vote on the law until 2012, officials with the Secretary of State’s Office said. The law requires local and state law enforcement to question people about their immigration status if there’s reason to suspect they’re in the country illegally and makes it a state crime to be in the United States illegally.

Tennessee: Scientists find evidence of water on asteroid

For the first time, scientists have discovered evidence of water ice, as well as organic compounds, on an asteroid, findings that bolster a leading theory for the origins of life on Earth. The research, reported by two teams of scientists working independently, appeared online Wednesday in the journal Nature. Both teams’ conclusions are based upon analyses of infrared light reflected by 24 Themis, one of the largest asteroids in the solar system. Because different materials absorb light at different wavelengths, scientists were able to establish the content of the asteroid by analyzing the light reflected by it. Lead authors of the studies are from the universities of Tennessee and Florida.

Panama: Company plans to export square watermelons

A company in Anton hopes to join a small niche market of the fruit export business: square watermelons. The Panama Fruit Producer company has started harvesting the fruit, which grow in cube-shaped glass boxes and conform to the mold as they get bigger, and expects to send its first shipment of 120 to New York. The company expects to produce about 3,000 of the molded melons this year, and will send them to the Netherlands and Germany as well. The first watermelons cost about $75 each, but producers hope to bring the price down.

From Herald news services