Federal authorities are investigating an underwater pipeline leak off the coast of Louisiana that may have spilled up to 1.1 million gallons of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico, the Coast Guard said Monday Americans.
A trace of oil was seen on the water around 9 a.m. Thursday, and Third Coast Midstream Pipeline reported a pipeline leak 10 minutes later, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). A flyover at 2 p.m. that day reported a 3- to 4-mile-wide slick “with black oil scattered throughout,” the agency said on its website.
THE National Transportation Safety Board said on southeast of New Orleans.
The 67-mile-long pipeline was shut down Thursday morning by Main Pass Oil Gathering. Multiple federal, state and local agencies are investigating the source of the leak, with the Coast Guard leading the cleanup operations.
“The volume of oil spilled is currently unknown,” the Coast Guard said in a news release Monday. “Initial engineering calculations indicate that the potential volume of crude oil that could have been released from the affected pipeline is 1.1 million gallons.”
The Coast Guard added that no injuries or shoreline impacts were reported Monday.
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Several overflights observed oil reflections
The Coast Guard activated the National Response Team, which includes 15 federal departments and agencies responsible for coordinating the response to oil and hazardous substance pollution incidents, Reuters reported.
Several overflights were conducted over the weekend to assess the incident, according to the Coast Guard.
Overflight teams observed traces of oil on the water surface, the coast guard said. And remotely operated vehicles were deployed Friday to search for the source of the leak along the pipeline.
Three skimming vessels were also deployed to recover oil from the surface, the coast guard added.
“Additional surface observations are underway with two Coast Guard Cutters on scene and additional overflights,” the Coast Guard said.
Third Coast Infrastructure LLC, owner of Main Pass Oil Gathering, declined USA TODAY’s request for comment Monday.
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Latest oil spill affecting US waters
Thousands of oil spills occur each year in U.S. waters, but “most are small, spilling less than a barrel of oil,” according to NOAA. But since the 1969 oil spill in Santa Barbara, California, NOAA said there have been at least 44 oil spills — spilling more than 420,000 gallons — in U.S. waters.
The Gulf of Mexico region has faced several oil spills, including the largest and worst in U.S. history: the Deepwater Horizon well blowout in 2010.
On April 20, 2010, the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded, killing 11 people and spilling 210 million gallons of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico for a total of 87 days. Oil slicks resulting from the blowout covered an estimated area of 57,000 square miles.
The Coast Guard also reported last year that since April 2019, one million gallons of oil had been collected in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Louisiana following the 2004 Taylor Energy oil spill.
The oil spill is considered the longest-running oil spill in the country, with leaks occurring over the past 19 years. It all started when Hurricane Ivan caused an underwater mudslide in September 2004 and destroyed an oil production platform about 11 miles off the coast of Louisiana.
Contributor: Doyle Rice, USA TODAY; The Associated Press
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