A ship performing excavation work off the Louisiana coast struck an oil pipeline Monday morning, setting off an oil spill that released more than 5,000 gallons of crude.
The U.S. Coast Guard said that the pipeline, owned by Harvest Pipeline Company, discharged about 5,300 gallons of crude oil 590 miles south of New Orleans and 12 miles east of Grand Isle after it was damaged by a vessel operated by Great Lakes Dredge and Dock Company.
The Coast Guard received a call about the oil spill just after 10 a.m. Monday. Coast Guard officials said Great Lake Dredge and Dock had contacted ECM Maritime Services, a Connecticut-based oil spill response firm, to manage the cleanup operations from a command post Grand Isle.
Cleanup crews have placed more than half a mile of oil boom around the spill in an effort to contain it and mitigate the damage to Louisiana’s already battered wetlands, which are still recovering from BP’s massive Deepwater Horizon oil spill of 2010.
OMI Environmental Solutions and the Clean Gulf Association are using sorbent material and skimmers to remove the oil from the water’s surface. The U.S. Coast Guard and the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries are overseeing the response.
Researchers from the University of South Florida College of Marine Science and other academic institutions are currently in the Gulf of Mexico trying to determine what environmental effects still linger after the 1979 Ixtoc One oil spill in the southern Gulf of Mexico.
The Ixtoc spill released about 3 million barrels (130 million U.S. gallons) and was the worst environmental disaster in the Gulf of Mexico until the BP spill, which flooded the northern Gulf with 4.9 million barrels (210 million U.S. gallons) of oil.
Researchers hope the remnants and aftereffects of the Ixtoc spill will inform expectations about the impact the BP spill will have for years to come.
The Coast Guard says that the pipeline damaged Monday has been secured and the oil release has been stopped.