Gulf Restoration Network

United for a Healthy Gulf

Jonathan Henderson
Bird’s Eye View: GRN Spots New Oil On Surface Of Gulf
Blog -
Tuesday, 22 March 2011 16:54

You may have heard recent reports  of an oily sheen spotted by fishermen in the Gulf of Mexico. We did too, so today, along with Gavin Garrison of Project Gulf Impact, I flew out over the Gulf to take a closer look. Thanks to Jo and Lamar Billups for making this flight possible!

No thanks to the Coast Guard, however. After reports from folks on the water and other rumors of this new oil, it took a number of days for the US Coast Guard to provide the public with concrete information about the new oil in the Gulf. It is the Coast Guard’s duty to alert the public to these issues and initiate a coordinated response. Nevertheless, to our dismay we found oil today, and lots of it.

This newest failure of industry and government again reinforces the need for a Regional Citizens Advisory Council that will have the resources to ensure that response plans are adequate and properly executed when necessary.

Starting in Belle Chase, La., we headed to Timbalier Bay and flew east toward Grand Isle. It did not take long to notice what appeared to be a light sheen stretching for miles and miles. We came across an area of obvious weathered oil and an oily sheen. This area, surrounding the Hercules platform, appeared to have oil coming up from below the surface. Still, with the amount of sheen visible on the horizon, we were not convinced that this area was the source or at least not the lone source. We continued east toward Grand Isle, then headed due south until we came across a massive amount of new oil including huge oil patties, streamers below the surface, and plumes. We also noticed some sort of activity by crew boats and a huge vessel that appeared to be a storage tanker for crude oil.

In my opinion, there was, without question, oil on the surface. I base this conclusion on my having flown out over the Gulf to observe oil at least 30 times since last April. While, at this point we could not pin-point the exact source of the oil, it appeared to be coming from the area around a platform with the marking LOOP on it. This is the Louisiana Offshore Oil Port, a major oil transfer station. We are trying to figure out the exact source of the oil and if there are indeed multiple sources. But, make no mistake about it - the oil is there. GRN will keep you posted as we find out more. For a look at today's flight path, please visit here.

Jonathan Henderson is the Coastal Resiliency Organizer for GRN.

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