Efforts are underway to contain and recover oil from a significant spill in the Gulf of Mexico, off the coast of Louisiana, estimated by the U.S. Coast Guard to be at least 1.1 million gallons. The spill, officially named “MPOG11015,” was discovered near a 67-mile pipeline operated by Main Pass Oil Gathering Co., a company owned by Houston-based Third Coast Infrastructure. However, the source of the contamination is still under investigation, and the Coast Guard is reviewing whether the pipeline is the origin of the spill.
Remotely operated vehicles have been deployed to survey the pipeline for any potential source areas. The spill was first identified on Thursday, with pilots on reconnaissance flights observing oil moving southwest from Plaquemines Parish. The pipeline, operated by Main Pass Oil Gathering, was subsequently shut down early on Thursday morning.
This incident raises concerns in a region that has witnessed some of the worst offshore oil disasters in the United States. Notably, the Deepwater Horizon disaster in 2010 resulted in 130 million gallons of crude oil being released into the Gulf of Mexico. The area also experienced the Taylor Energy spill starting in 2004, which continued unnoticed for nearly six years, leaking at least 30 million gallons of crude into the Gulf.
While the current spill is comparatively smaller, environmental groups, such as the Center for Biological Diversity’s oceans program, express concerns about potential consequences for ocean wildlife. Kristen Monsell of the Center for Biological Diversity stated that the spill is “less an accident than an entirely predictable consequence of offshore oil operations,” emphasizing the potential environmental impact on marine life.
Officials from Main Pass Oil Gathering and Third Coast Infrastructure have not responded to inquiries about the spill. The Coast Guard has not officially identified the responsible party but indicated that the company has cooperated with requests made by the authorities and the state.
Oil spills in the Gulf of Mexico can have severe consequences for marine ecosystems, harming sea turtles, marine mammals, birds, fish, and invertebrates. The ongoing response involves skimming vessels actively working to mitigate the environmental impact and recover spilt oil.
Image credits: Wikimedia Commons