Quick Update From Gulf

Yesterday, we spotted what appeared to be new oil in the Gulf of Mexico, but the exact source of the oil was impossible to pin-point. There seems to be a lot of unanswered questions and confusion about what is happening in the Gulf.Louisiana State Wildlife and Fisheries officials have stated that they traced oil to a shallow water platform owned by a Houston based company, and the Coast Guard believes that the company may be responsible for the spill. The company, Anglo-Suisse, claims the incident stems from a well-capping accident on a platform in an area known as West Delta Block 117, but the company’s reports to the Coast Guard claim less than 5 gallons of oil were released. Clearly, more than 5 gallons are fouling the Gulf right now.If the oil originated at WDB 117, then why does satellite imagery from our friends at SkyTruth show much of the slick around the Louisiana Offshore Oil Port (LOOP) and none near West Delta Block 117? Our photos from yesterday’s flyover, icluding newly added ones, confirm the presence of slick and surface oil surrounding the LOOP facility, which is a major oil importation hub south of Grand Isle, Louisiana.To confuse matters further, Nancy Rabalais, director of the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium research station in Cocodrie, said scientists from the lab believe the slick is actually a huge, thick concentration of phytoplankton, the plant species of the microscopic critters at the bottom of the ocean food chain. So, who can confirm what is actually out there?Along with these oil sightings to the west of the Mississippi, massive amounts of surface oil have been spotted east of the river near the Chandeleur Islands. GRN volunteers flying with the organization, On Wings of Care, confirmed the oil over this area. While it appears to be completely separate from the incident to the west, there is, as of now, no official explanation as to the source of this oil. Which begs the question, why has the Coast Guard not yet responded and released more information regarding this separate incident?While many questions remain, one thing is clear – drilling in the Gulf is still not safe. Tighter regulations and more local input are clearly needed to prevent future accidents and to ensure these inevitable incidents are responded to quickly and effectively. Lessons from Alaska have shown that an established Citizens Advisory Council can accomplish these goals. Please take a moment to send a message to your elected officials requesting the formation of a Gulf of Mexico Regional Citizens Advisory Council.Jonathan Henderson is the Coastal Resiliency Organizer for GRN.

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