News outlets are reporting that the Coast Guard has plans to try and set the massive oil spill from last Tuesday’s sinking of the Deepwater Horizon rig on fire before it can reach the coast.

While alarming, the tactic may be one of the few options left to try and thwart what is becoming more and more likely to be a certain environmental disaster.

The spill, which has grown to size larger than West Virginia, is now less than 40 miles from the mouth of the Mississippi River.

The Coast Guard has said that is will attempt to set several small “controlled burns.” According to officials, if successful the fire should eliminate most of the “light oil” but would still leave much of the “heavier material” that is suspended below the surface. It is believed that some of that material will likely reach the coast. “We will still see some environmental damage,” said Rice University Chemical Engineering Professor Walter Chapman.

Meanwhile, efforts to control the spill at sea are not fairing any better. According to the satellite imagery outlet SkyTruth, containment efforts are proving ineffectual. The spill is just too large.