The worst fears of one conservationist may be coming true.
Admiral Thad Allen said Friday that the cap placed over the leaking well was only collecting oil at a rate of 42,000 gallons a day. Recent estimates put the flow at 500,000 to a million gallons a day.
That figure may have increased by 20 percent after the pipe at the top of the blowout preventer was cut off during BP's latest attempt to staunch the flow.
"If the cap doesn't work, we're going to have three times the amount of oil in the Gulf of Mexico," conservationist Rick Steiner told MSNBC's Keith Olbermann Thursday.
As much as 46 million gallons have already leaked into the Gulf. If the "cut and cap" operation fails there could be more than 138 million gallons of oil spilled before a relief well is finished in August.
Even that estimate may be conservative. Some have said that worst case scenario is that the leak could last until Christmas.
Steiner complained that it's hard to know the true scope of the leak and the effectiveness of the cap since BP is not allowing independent experts to monitor their progress. "The only people in the ROV operating room for this project are BP, and their contractors for the federal agencies," he said.
"Honestly we can't believe a thing BP says and a lot of people are starting to question what they're hearing out of the administration simply because both have their own vested interests here," said Steiner.
The marine conservationist has requested to be present in the ROV operating room to observe the procedures. "I've asked Admiral Allen and the EPA administrator to put me in the room," Steiner told Olbermann.