NEW ORLEANS (ABC)-- The military may have to move in to help control that oil spill off the Gulf coast. The offshore oil rig which exploded and sank last week is pumping five times more oil a day than previously believed which is a potential environmental catastrophe. The spill could reach the shores of Louisiana by Friday night.
Wednesday's controlled burn in the Gulf of Mexico, the first of what will likely be many in the days ahead, was a success. Still, officials now estimate 5,000 barrels a day are leaking, that's 4,000 barrels a day more than previously thought.
The crude oil had spewed into the water after that oil rig explosion last week. A burn technique on water has been tested before with some success. British Petroleum, the oil company responsible for the rig, suggested the burn in part because robots working 5,000 feet below the surface have been unable to slow the leak.
The oil slick is already 20 miles east of the mouth of the Mississippi River, 100 miles long, 45 miles wide, a slick the size of the island of Jamaica.
While assessments of the situation vary, it is a tense time for all those who live and work along the Gulf Coast. The spill threatens marine life, the fishing and shellfish industries, and beaches and tidal wetlands.
President Obama was briefed on the situation Wednesday night. One Coast Guard commander believes it might be time to involve the Department of Defense, that this has gotten too big for BP to handle alone.