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Oil spill: Gulf of Mexico disaster 'growing by the moment'
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Here is what you need to know about the situation so far and how it might develop in the future.
How big is the oil slick and how fast is itgrowing?
The oil slick has grown in size since the initial accident as the oil spreads across the surface of the ocean. The lighter the oil is, the faster it can spread —so gasoline would spread faster than thicker, black oils, such as the crude oil from the Deep water Horizon. But even heavy oil can spread quickly in a major spill,spreading out as thin as a layer of paint on a wall in just a few hours, according to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
Officials combating thespill estimate that the oil slick has a circumference of about 600 miles (about 970 kilometers), though the shape of the spill is irregular. The slick is big enough to be seenfrom space. So far the oil slick has not spread out enough to reach the coastline, though officials are concerned about that possibility. The most recent NOAA report on thespill says that the edge of the area with visible oil is now 21 miles (34 km) from the nearest point of land, which is the SW Pass at the tip of the Mississippi River Delta.