A new oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has created a mile-long slick after a tug boat struck an abandoned well off the Louisiana coast. A crew was scrambled from the Deepwater Horizon clean-up operation after the collision sent a plume of oil and gas 100ft into the air. The spill in Barataria Bay, which is surrounded by wildlife-rich wetlands, is at least the third leak since in the area since the BP oil catastrophe began on April 10. The area of ocean 65 miles south of New Orleans would normally be occupied by fishermen, shrimpers and oystermen, but it has been deserted since the BP spill began.
The abandoned wellhead burst in the early hours of Tuesday morning after being hit by a tug boat that was pushing a dredge barge.
About 6,000 feet of boom was placed around the spill, and the Coast Guard was surveying the scene from a helicopter. Admiral Thad Allen, the US Coast Guard chief, said the oil platform was surrounded by a sheen and a vapour that was probably a combination of oil and gas spewing from the well. Bobby Jindal, the Governor of Louisiana, said: “The Coast Guard’s overflight this morning confirmed the pipeline/wellhead is discharging a mist of orange and brown oil about 100 feet in air.
“This is the same thing we viewed on our flight to the well today. The Coast Guard does not have a specific flow rate for the well determined yet, although there have been early reports that there is natural gas and mud mixed in with oil coming from the well.” The well, which was once owned by Cedyco Corporation, was abandoned in November 2008. A safety zone has been established 2 miles around the site to protect vessels and mariners from the hazards associated with the spill, the Coast Guard said.