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Size of Oil Spill Underestimated, Scientists Say 13 May 2010 Two weeks ago, the government put out a round estimate of the size of the oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico: 5,000 barrels a day. Repeated endlessly in news reports, it has become conventional wisdom. But scientists and environmental groups are raising sharp questions about that estimate, declaring that the leak must be far larger... Ian R. MacDonald, an oceanographer at Florida State University who is an expert in the analysis of oil slicks, said he had made his own rough calculations using satellite imagery. They suggested that the leak could "easily be four or five times" the government estimate, he said.