New Gulf oil sheen came from BP’s Macondo well, Coast Guard affirms
A new oil sheen discovered in the Gulf of Mexico near the site of BP’s Deepwater Horizon disaster is chemically identical to samples taken from the oil giant’s blown-out Macondo well, which erupted in 2010 and flooded the Gulf with more than 200 million gallons of oil, according to a U.S. Coast Guard analysis.
BP first reported the slick to the National Response Center on September 16. Coast Guard and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration officials took samples from the slick, found floating in the Gulf 50 miles off the Louisiana coast, on September 26. They then forwarded the samples to the Coast Guard Marine Safety Lab in New London, Connecticut for testing.
“The NOFI (Notice of Federal Interest) effectively informs BP and Transocean that the Coast Guard matched the sheen samples to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill or sunken drilling debris and that either party or both may be held accountable for any cost associated with further assessments or operations related to this sheen,” the Coast Guard wrote in its communication to BP and rig-owner Transocean, which leased the Deepwater Horizon platform to BP.
The slick isn’t the first to be spotted in the vicinity of the Mississippi Canyon, home of BP’s ill-fated Deepwater Horizon drilling operations, since the blown-out Macondo well was allegedly plugged successfully in September 2010. Several sheens of varying size have been spotted in the area over the last two years.
As with past sheens tied to the BP oil spill since the Macondo well was capped, the Coast Guard indicated that the oil could be seeping from the Deepwater Horizon wreckage, which sank to the Gulf floor a mile below after exploding.
The Coast Guard said that it “remains committed to the continued cleanup of the Gulf Coast and all shorelines affected as a result of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion,” but at the same time said it had no plans to clean up the sheen because it “is not feasible and does not pose a risk to the shoreline.” Neither were there any indications from BP itself that the spill would be cleaned up.
U.S. Representative Edward Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat, said the federal government should mandate that BP survey the sea floor around the Macondo well site with remotely operated undersea vehicles.
“BP must do everything in its power to ensure this well does not rupture or leak, and they should be held responsible if it does,” Mr. Markey said. “BP still has billions to pay to the people of the Gulf and the U.S. government, but the Gulf region also deserves the peace of mind that this well is dead once and for all.”
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