Report: Oil Spill Larger Than Thought; Pakistan Arrests N.Y. Bomb Suspect

BY jbreslow  May 14, 2010 at 8:48 AM EDT

Oil spill workers

Oil spill workers connect sections of oil booms to protect marshlands in the Gulf of Mexico. Photo by John Moore/Getty Images.

When the Deepwater Horizon rig sunk into the Gulf of Mexico last month, officials first estimated that it was leaking oil at a rate of 1,000 barrels a day. That figure was later revised to 5,000 barrels per day. Multiple reports out Friday, however, show the spill may be much, much worse.

An NPR investigation has found that there is at least 10 times more oil spilling into the Gulf than official estimates suggest. NPR’s findings are based on the analysis of three academics and, if accurate, would mean “the BP spill is already far larger than the 1989 Exxon Valdez accident in Alaska, which spilled at least 250,000 barrels of oil.”

Based on video of the underwater leak released by BP this week, the analysis found the range of the leak may be anywhere from 50,000 barrels per day to as much as 100,000 barrels per day.

You can compare different estimates using the NewsHour’s spill tracker.

“BP has said repeatedly that there is no reliable way to measure the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico by looking at the oil gushing out of the pipe,” NPR reports.

BP has said that at worst, oil is spilling into the Gulf at a rate of 60,000 barrels a day. But the New York Times points out:

“Scientists and environmental groups are raising sharp questions about that estimate, declaring that the leak must be far larger. They also criticize BP for refusing to use well-known scientific techniques that would give a more precise figure.”

We’ll have more about oil spill estimates later today here on the Rundown.

Pakistan Arrests Suspect Tied to Times Square Plot

Pakistan’s government has arrested a suspect tied to the Pakistani Taliban who has admitted to helping carry out the attempted bombing of Times Square.

“The suspect, whose arrest has not been previously disclosed, provided an ‘independent stream’ of evidence that the Pakistani Taliban were behind the attempt and has admitted helping Faisal Shahzad, the main suspect, travel into Pakistan’s tribal belt for bomb training,” according to the Washington Post.

A clear link with the Pakistani Taliban “would move the militant group onto an expanding list of al-Qaeda affiliates that pose a direct threat to the United States,” according to the Post, and “put new pressure on the U.S. relationship with Pakistan at a time when President Obama is pushing the country to expand its military campaign against insurgent groups.”

News of the arrest follows a series of FBI raids across the Northeast on Thursday. Authorities arrested three individuals who are believed to have helped Shahzad secure money for the plot.

Thai Troops Fire on Protesters

New clashes have erupted in Thailand between government forces and the nation’s red shirt protesters following the shooting Thursday of a leading renegade general.

At least two people have been killed and 45 injured by the violence, which according to the Associated Press, has turned the Thai capital of Bangkok “into a virtual war zone.”

The BBC reports that a France 24 TV reporter was hit by a round, and there were reports two Thai journalists had also been shot.

The Guardian UK is live blogging the developments here.

Atlantis Set for Final Voyage

NASA launches its final voyage for space shuttle Atlantis on Friday, a 12-day mission that will deliver a spare module, batteries and a communications antenna to the International Space Station. Just two more space shuttle missions remain following Friday’s launch.