Coast Guard officials grasped the potential threat of a catastrophic spill within hours of the explosion on board the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig, estimating that 8,000 barrels a day of crude oil could possibly gush out of the well in the event of a complete blowout, according to Coast Guard logs.
The logs, obtained by the Center for Public Integrity, provide the most detailed account of the early days of the BP disaster, and detail events that are missing from the White House's official timeline of the crisis.
The estimate of the potential leak on April 21, the day after the rig exploded, reveals that first responders almost immediately understood the environmental threat to the Gulf of Mexico when Coast Guard officials detected the first signs of oil appearing on the Gulf waters.
"Potential environmental threat is 700,000 gallons of diesel on board the Deepwater Horizon and estimated potential of 8,000 barrels per day of crude oil, if the well were to completely blowout," the Coast Guard reported on April 21, less than 24 hours after the accident was first reported.
Officials also learned within the first day of the disaster that the blowout preventer -- an oil rig safety device that is supposed to cut off a well in case of an accident -- was not functioning and could not be manually repaired by remote underwater robots.
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