JONATHAN ERNST / POOL / AFP via Getty Images
Divers on Sunday worked to locate an oil spill approximately two miles off the coast of Louisiana, in the Bay Marchand area of the Gulf of Mexico, toward the U.S. Coast Guard.
A Coast Guard spokesman, Lt. John Edwards, said Talos Energy of Houston, a Gulf oil and gas company operating, had hired Clean Gulf Associates as an organization to respond to the oil spill in the Bay Marchand polluted area.
Talos has also contracted a diving team to determine the source of the spill, Edwards said. Edwards, meanwhile, said Clean Gulf Associates is launching skimmers – devices that help to extract spilled oil from the water – in the region in order to mitigate any further impact on the environment.
The Coast Guard says there are more teams working to determine the extent of the pollution. Once divers identify the source of the leak, the Coast Guard will work on a plan to recover and control the source, Edwards said.
As divers continue to gather information about the spill, the source remains unclear. The Associated Press reported that although Talos hired Clean Gulf Associates and divers to find the source of the leak, the company said it did not believe they were responsible. The Coast Guard also said it did not know where the oil might come from.
“Talos has taken the initiative to respond to the pollution report and has hired an organization to fight the oil spill; the source of the product and the responsible party have not yet been determined,” said Coast Guard spokesman Gabriel Wisdom.
Talos and Clean Gulf Associates did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Experts say the spill is far enough away for now to avoid more damage
News of the Bay Marchand spill comes after Associated Press reported a satellite image from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) last week that showed several other potential oil spills in the Gulf.
Environmental experts say the spill is far enough away from the coast itself that it is not immediately feared for damage to local habitats. But keeping the damage so that it does not reach aquatic organisms and sediment on the shore is absolutely critical.
“It is currently moving along the coastal area. It has not started moving towards the mainland and polluting the coastal area, and that is crucial to do as much as possible before it reaches all the way to the coastal area,” said Wilma Subra, technical adviser at Louisiana Environmental Action Network, it was said for NPR.
Identification of a spill after a hurricane may take longer than expected
Because of the intensity of the hurricanes that hit the Gulf area, especially strong ones like Hurricane Ida, oil and gas companies will usually evacuate part of the personnel working at sea. But that could mean that response times to finding oil spills and resolving them may be slower, Subra said.
“There aren’t a lot of people out there who can stay in the water and see, so you have to take satellite images … It’s the only way in the early stages that you can observe these spills and start dealing with them as soon as possible,” Subra said.
An oil spill approaching the coast would also affect the livelihoods of people working in the seafood industry, bringing in billions in the Gulf region. Damage to fish, crabs, shrimp and other marine life could potentially affect thousands of jobs.
“This will have a huge negative impact on the environment as well as on the ability of communities to continue to survive,” Subra said.