Oil spill stats put into perspective - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Oil spill stats put into perspective

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) -

By Elizabeth Vowell – email

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) – The cap is sealed and holding, but there is still a lot of oil clean up to be done.  Each day hundreds of resources are being used and the statistics are dizzying:  Hundreds of vessels, thousands of works, millions of dollars in claims.    

But what do those numbers actually translate to?

According to MEMA, around 110 miles of beach have been cleaned.  That's about the same as the distance from Pascagoula to New Orleans. 

Clean up in the Mississippi Sound has its own set of statistics. 

"We are at about 35,000 pounds of material that has been pulled out of the Mississippi Sound," said National Guard Commander Lee Smithson who directs the state Military Support.    

That material includes both oil debris and boom: overall about 17.5 tons.

A mid sized car equals about one ton.  As you can imagine, all the debris collected in July could fill a parking lot in cars.

The National Guard says only 100 vessels of opportunity will go out Monday, with an average of eight people per boat. That could equal more than 100 offensive lines in vessels workers alone. 

However there's one number that every one really wants to know: How much oil is in the gulf?

"I don't think anybody really has any idea how much oil is in the gulf.  Again, scientists are differing whether there's submerged oil, [or] all the oil is on the top," said Smithson

Estimates of the amount of oil in the gulf have doubled since the spill began. Some scientists report that every week the oil spewed into the gulf, was equal to another Exxon Valdez spill.

BP reports that more than 15,000 claims and $20.7 million have been paid.  That's enough money to fund four years of college tuition for nearly 300 Mississippi residents. 

The Mississippi command remains optimistic about clean up.

"We think the end is almost in sight, but as BP has said from the beginning, we won't know anything, and we will continue to have a big presence until the relief wells are in place," said Smithson.  

According to Smithson, since July the Mississippi command has been working on clean up 24-7, and that's a number everyone can understand.

Copyright 2010 WLOX. All rights reserved.

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