U.S. Coast Guard Probing Reports of Nearly 350 Oil Spills in Aftermath of Hurricane Ida

by Matthew Memrick

After Hurricane Ida’s fury, the U.S. Coast Guard is working on finding nearly 350 oil spills in and around the Gulf of Mexico.

Offshore and onshore oil and gas operations took a significant hit thanks to the 150 mile-per-hour winds. According to Reuters, 88 percent of the region’s offshore production has stopped. Also, more than 100 platforms are unoccupied since the Aug. 29 hurricane made landfall.

Coast Guard officials say they have been sending planes on flyovers in a hunt for oil leaks. Data collected is going to federal, state, and local authorities.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released satellite images of the oil spills in the Gulf of Mexico on Sept. 2. 

One researcher gave thanks to the administration for releasing the images. According to The New York Times, a senior researcher at The Citizen Lab in Toronto came across the Talos spill. John Scott-Railton said he had been looking over the images of the hurricane’s handiwork.

“The fact that it was possible to find this spill is owed to the fact that NOAA made aerial imagery publicly available,” Scott-Railton said. “Had NOAA not made that public, it would have been a lot harder to uncover what is clearly an unfolding environmental problem.”

Coast Guard Watching New, Old Oil Leaks

Sunday’s flights discovered a new offshore well leak and the containment of another leak that leaked miles of oil.  

For one leak in Bay Marchand, old oil pipes could be the culprit. Talos Energy was responding to one oil spill with divers and a cleanup crew. The source of the leak, however, is still unknown.

Coast Guard spokesman Lieutenant John Edwards said a Coast Guard-led team “will be looking at all potential sources in order to ensure any future risk is mitigated.”

Another spill near Port Fourchon, La. had gotten smaller since its discovery last week.

S2 Energy reported one of its wells was secure after an oil spill last week. That well was five miles from the Bay Marchand site. 

According to KATC, the energy company hired an Oil Spill Response Organization to boom the area to mitigate the spread and collect any recoverable product.

The impacted area is approximately 100-yards long by 100-yards wide.

Officials do not have estimates of the total amount of spilled oil.

The Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (LDEQ) worked with Coast Guard and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency officials to monitor the situation as companies worked to stop spills and clean up oil. Those agencies could also request funds to cover some of the costs in light of the hurricane. 

Coast Guard officials say estimates of how much oil leaked are not available yet.

Coast Guard Was In Deepwater Horizon Rescue Efforts

Fortunately, the Coast Guard was not part of any oil rig rescue efforts after Hurricane Ida.

On Apr. 20, 2010, the Coast Guard helped rescue 94 crew members after a Deepwater Horizon explosion. Despite a three-day USCG search operation, 11 workers died in the blast. Historians say the oil spill is America’s worst environmental disaster.