Bird’s-Eye View: GRN Finds New Leak Near Empire

This past I went on another flyover to the Gulf as part of GRN’s ongoing independent monitoring and watch dogging of BP’s drilling disaster and the catastrophe of a response. In the dozens of excursions to the Gulf I’ve taken since the Deepwater Horizon exploded and sank, I’ve witnessed BP’s oil destroying our Gulf waters, beaches, bays, wetlands, and marine and wildlife.Yet, last Friday I found a new source of oil leaking into Louisiana’s wetlands. About 25 minutes after taking off from Southern Seaplanes in Belle Chasse and while on my way to the site where the Horizon sank, I came across what appeared to be a well-head or other oil industry structure spewing oil into the open water of an area called Adam’s Bay just to the east of Empire, Louisiana. When I take these flyovers my eyes are almost always looking down, and thanks to GRN supporter Lamar Billups, through a brand new set of high tech binoculars. Through the looking glass I spotted a bright purple sheen about 1500 ft. below the plane so I asked my pilot to circle around and drop altitude so I could get a closer look and take pictures and video evidence. It was definitely and clearly unrelated to the BP disaster. This was a new leak from a different source tarnishing our precious and battered ecosystem. After flying over this new leak and documenting it, we headed out to the Horizon site and then back towards land crossing over the Chandeleur Islands. As soon as I returned to my office at GRN headquarters in downtown New Orleans, I reported this new leak to the Louisiana State Police Hazardous Materials Hotline as well as the US National Response Team. I was given case numbers from the respective agencies and left wondering what action and follow-up would be taken. I then began calling through some of my contacts in that area to let them know about this leak so that they can help ensure that the proper action is taken by the authorities.One thing is for certain: this was not the first oil leak from a well-head or pipeline in our fragile wetlands and it won’t be the last. With that in mind, GRN will continue with our ongoing watch dogging to help ensure that incidents like this are reported and dealt with. We will also continue to advocate for stronger policies that place the protection of our coast and communities before the interests of oil companies that have already done so much damage to our fragile gulf ecosystem. Jonathan Henderson is the Coastal Resiliency Organizer for GRN

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