E2 Round-up: BP reports partial success, Congress presses for more info on size of leak, and lawsuits spread with the oil

"The announcement by BP came on the heels of reports that the spill might be might much worse than estimated. Scientists said they had found giant plumes of oil in the deep waters of the gulf, including one as large as 10 miles long, 3 miles wide and 300 feet thick," according to the Times.

A BP executive told NBC's "Today" show Monday morning that one-fifth of the leaking oil is being collected by the tube.

* Congress wants more information on size of leak

As BP reported progress, members of Congress kept up the pressure on the oil giant to reaffirm its estimate that around 5,000 barrels of oil a day are spilling into the gulf.

Bloomberg reports that Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) is accusing BP of refusing to provide information about the size of the flow.

"BP, led by Chief Executive Officer Tony Hayward, reaffirmed its estimate that 5,000 barrels (210,000 gallons) are gushing out each day. Independent researchers have suggested the leak could be more than 10 times bigger. Scientists say getting a better grasp of the magnitude of the spill is crucial," according to Bloomberg.

Markey said in a statement that BP should provide more video to help independent researchers gauge the size of the spill.

* Lawsuits spread like the oil

The spill has been ongoing for nearly a month. But it was only a day after the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded into flames that the first lawsuit was filed.

That, according to this story in The Washington Post, "marked the beginning of legal action that is spreading as inexorably as the oil that threatens the wildlife and economy of five states along the Gulf of Mexico...."

"The law firms now assembling are members of the all-star team of plaintiffs' attorneys. They have experience suing big companies over asbestos, tobacco, oil company waste, breast implants and Chinese drywall. They have represented Ecuadoran shrimp farmers and New York lobstermen, patients who have swallowed Vioxx and investors who lost money on shares of Enron. ...

"'When we put together the team for tobacco . . . it was the A-team of lawyers, and this is the same thing developing here,' said Mike Papantonio, who cut his teeth on asbestos litigation and is a partner in Florida-based Levin, Papantonio, Thomas, Mitchell, Echsner & Proctor. ...

"The prospects of getting big dollars in this case are good, too, lawyers say," according to the Post.