Oil Spill

BP Nears Gulf Record

Just in time for the holiday weekend: The BP oil spill is close to capturing the record for the largest slick ever to stain the Gulf of Mexico, officials say. In yet another reminder of how long the crisis has dragged on, the oil spilled is nearing 140 million gallons, the record set by Mexico’s Ixtoc I in 1979-1980. That estimate is based on the high end of government guesses at how many barrels of oil are spewing out each day. But BP’s fiasco is still far smaller than the biggest spill of all time: that award goes to the Iraqi government, which opened valves at a terminal during the 1991 Persian Gulf war, sending 460 million gallons of oil into the sea. In one bit of good spill news, the largest oil skimmer in the world has been dispatched to the Deepwater Horizon site. It can hoover up 21 million gallons a day.