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Well spilled 4.9M barrels, new numbers reveal

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Oil well spilled out 4.9 million barrels, new numbers revealThe blown-out well in the Gulf of Mexico gushed even more oil than the worst case scenario envisioned, a whopping total of 4.9 million barrels, or 205.8 million gallons, according to a new analysis by government scientists charged with estimating the flow rate.

BP's Macondo well spewed 62,000 barrels of oil a day initially, and as the reservoir gradually depleted itself the flow eased to 53,000 barrels a day until the well was finally capped and sealed on July 15, according to scientists in the Flow Rate Technical Group, supervised by the U.S. Geological Survey and the U.S. Department of Energy.

The new numbers, released by the government Monday night, once again nudge upward the scale of the disaster. If correct -- the government allows for a margin of error of 10 percent -- the flow rate would make this spill significantly larger than the Ixtoc I blowout of 1979, which polluted the southern Gulf of Mexico with 138 million gallons over the coursre of 10 months.

That had been the record for the largest unintentional oil spill in the planet's history, surpassed only by the intentional spills of the Persian Gulf War.

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