Time may be running out Thursday for the U.S. Coast Guard and BP officials scrambling to head off looming ecological disaster.
Not only was a third leak discovered late Wednesday- which government officials said is spewing five times as much oil into the water than originally estimated - but it might be closer to shore than previously known, and could have oil washing up on shore by Friday.
National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration experts are estimating that 5,000 barrels a day of oil are spilling into the gulf. The slick's leading edge drifted toward the salt marshes of the Louisiana Delta, only 20 miles from a fragile wetland rich with shrimp, crabs and crayfish. But response teams in Mississippi, Alabama and the Florida Panhandle were carefully watching shifting winds that could ultimately steer the 2,000-square-mile blob just about anywhere on the Gulf Coast.
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