A faulty oil well released an estimated 4,200 gallons of crude oil in the mouth of the Mississippi River in Louisiana’s Plaquemines Parrish Aug. 2. It was the third oil spill in a week to hit the southeastern Louisiana Parrish, which is still struggling to recover from BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
The U.S. Coast Guard reported the spill came from a well owned by the Texas Petroleum Investment Company. The exact cause of the spill remains unknown, but Coast Guard and state authorities continue to investigate.
According to the Times-Picayune, Texas Petroleum has contracted OMI Environmental Solutions and Clean Gulf Associates, private oil spill response companies, to clean up the spill. The extent of the environmental damage is still being assessed.
On July 25, an abandoned flow line owned by the oil and gas extraction company Hilcorp broke in the Lake Washington oil field area in Plaquemines Parish, releasing an estimated 4,200 gallons of crude oil. Hilcorp is already the defendant in a lawsuit filed by the Louisiana Oystermen Association, which alleges the company has been using a cheap, unlawful, and environmentally reckless practice known as “prop washing” to cut and deepen shipping channels that access its oil operations.
The Association alleges these operations are destroying some of the remaining oyster beds, which have already been largely decimated by BP’s 2010 oil spill.
On July 28, a flowline owned by Texas Petroleum Management discharged 850 gallons into the wetlands of Plaquemine Parrish. Aerial pictures of the spill show the oil killed a large swath of marsh grass.
No matter what the size, oil spills are devastating to Louisiana’s wetlands, which are as biologically diverse and critical to the environment as they are fragile. Oil spills kill the roots of marsh grass and mangrove trees that anchor marshlands and barrier islands, allowing them to erode and disappear.
Thanks to oil spills, depleted oyster reefs, rising sea level, and destructive shipping channels that cut through the sensitive wetlands, Louisiana loses coastal wetlands at the rate of a football field every hour.
The National Response Center receives about 1,500 oil spill notifications from Louisiana each year — about 20 percent of all annual oil spill reports nationwide and 20 percent of the volume of all oil spilled in the U.S. According to the Louisiana Oil Spill coordinator’s office, approximately 330,000 gallons of oil are spilled in Louisiana every year.