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Gulf Spill Far Bigger Than Valdez, Experts Say

NEW ORLEANS (CN) - Between 12,000 and 19,000 barrels of oil are spilling daily into the Gulf of Mexico, making this the worst spill in U.S. history, according to new estimates from a federal technical group. The amount of oil released far surpasses the 1989 Exxon Valdez catastrophe responsible for spilling 11 million gallons of oil off the coast of Alaska.

Marcia McNutt, director of the U.S. Geological Survey, says best estimates from scientists indicate that between 18 million and 28 million gallons of oil have gushed into the Gulf of Mexico thus far -- or between 432,000 and 684,000 barrels -- since the April 20 explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig.

The new figure comes from a group of government, industry and academic scientists and more than doubles what the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and BP estimated to be 5,000 barrel a day.

Independent scientists previously calculated that the spill could be closer to 70,000 barrels a day.

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