04.29.10 2:04 PM ET
Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill
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Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano declared the massive disaster in the Gulf of Mexico a “spill of national significance” on Thursday, meaning federal resources will now be directed at cleanup—with the bill going to BP, the operator of the sunken rig that caused the leak. Oil is expected to wash ashore in the Mississippi Delta on Friday. The Wall Street Journal reports that the spill could have been prevented by a simple remote “off” switch, which the rig lacked. The oil spill is now estimated to be five times as big as previously thought—likely bigger than the Exxon Valdez spill in 1989. BP's Chief Operating Officer Doug Suttles admitted to the new figure on NBC's Today show Thursday morning. “We’ll take help from anyone,” Suttles said of the clean-up efforts. Crews began setting the oil on fire Wednesday to control environmental damage. Eleven workers missing from the BP rig are thought dead.