Cleanup boats on scene of large Gulf oil spill following Ida

Mid-South

Photos captured by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration aircraft Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2021 and reviewed by The Associated Press show a miles long black slick floating in the Gulf of Mexico near a large rig marked with the name Enterprise Offshore Drilling. The company, based in Houston, did not immediately respond to requests for comment by phone or email on Wednesday. EPA officials said Wednesday hey were unaware of any leak requiring a federal response. (NOAA via AP)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. Coast Guard said Saturday that cleanup crews are responding to a sizable oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico following Hurricane Ida.

The ongoing spill appears to be coming from a source underwater at an offshore drilling lease about two miles south of Port Fourchon, Louisiana. The reported location is near the site of a miles-long brown and black oil slick visible in aerial photos first published Wednesday by The Associated Press.

So far, the growing oil slick appears to have remained out to sea and has not impacted the Louisiana shoreline.

Coast Guard spokesman Lt. John Edwards said the source of the pollution is located in Bay Marchand, Block 4, and is believed to be crude oil from an undersea pipeline owned by Talos Energy.

Brian L. Grove, spokesman for the Houston-based energy company, said it had hired Clean Gulf Associates to respond to the spill even though the company believes it is not responsible for the oil in the water.

Clean Gulf Associates, a nonprofit oil-spill response cooperative that works with the energy exploration and production industry, responded to the scene Wednesday. Its workers have placed a containment boom in the area to mitigate the further spread of the oil. The company’s vessels are also running skimmers that can remove oil from the water, though the Coast Guard said only about 42 gallons had been removed so far.

Talos is investigating the cause of the leak, but a statement provided by Grove said that field observations indicate the company’s assets are not the source. Talos previously leased Bay Marchand, Block 5, but ceased production there in 2017, plugged its wells and removed all pipeline infrastructure by 2019.

Talos said two 95-foot response vessels had been dispatched to the scene to conduct oil recovery operations. A lift boat equipped to conduct dive operations has also been mobilized and is expected to arrive Saturday to help determine the spill source.

“Talos will continue to work closely with the U.S. Coast Guard and other state and federal agencies to identify the source of the release and coordinate a successful response,” the company’s statement said. “The company’s top priorities are the safety of all personnel and the protection of the public and environment.”

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