More Oil in the Gulf: Wells Around Deepwater Horizon Site Have Been Leaking Since 2004


Perhaps one reason federal agencies are so anxious to declare “Mission Accomplished” in the Gulf is that they know what other scandals lurk beneath the surface – like oil wells that have been leaking since 2004 with the Coast Guard and other agencies lowballing the amount of the flows.

Sound familiar?

Ben Raines at the Press-Register has a truly jaw-dropping story that several wells about 10 miles away from the Deepwater Horizon site have “been leaking oil into the Gulf since 2004, according to federal records.”

But the newspaper says that “federal officials refused last week to answer a series of questions about the ongoing leaks, including how many wells are involved, how much oil has escaped into the Gulf and whether any fines have been issued to Taylor Energy Co, LLC, the company that owns the wells.”

Also from the Press-Register: “Taylor Energy production platform near the mouth of the Mississippi River was toppled by a mudslide during Hurricane Ivan, according to federal reports. The platform was tied to 26 wells, though it is unclear how many are leaking. The company is reportedly in the process of drilling relief wells to staunch the flow.”

Actually, the ongoing leaks gained national attention during the BP spill after the government finally released highly detailed satellite images of the Gulf’s surface. SkyTruth, a watchdog group that uses satellite images to monitor environmental problems, spotted the problem.

Responding to media reports about the ongoing leaks, the Press-Register notes, the “…the Department of Interior and the U.S. Coast Guard suggested at the time that the leak volume was as small as 13 gallons a day.”

But John Amos, the former oil industry engineer who is president of SkyTruth, “…reported the slick associated with the Taylor spill was 10 miles long June 18. Using a standard method of estimating how much oil is present in a sheen on water based on work by scientists at the University of Florida, Amos reported the slick contained a minimum of 3,157 gallons of oil.”

“If the Coast Guard is right and the average leak rate was 14 gallons a day, it would take 225 days at that rate to accumulate 3,157 gallons of oil on the surface,” Amos said Friday (Feb. 11). “That means no biodegradation, no waves, no current, no thunderstorms to break it up. It is simply not plausible that oil collected on that spot for 225 days.”

It seems the further you look into these federal agencies, the more your realize just how pro-industry they really are. But, even in that context, learning that a company is “drilling relief wells” now for a spill that happened in 2004 shows a mind-boggling lack of urgency and oversight.

Never forget that those people are still in charge, and that we have no idea what other secrets are out there.

The eye-opening Press-Register story is posted here:

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Stuart H. Smith is an attorney based in New Orleans fighting major oil companies and other polluters.
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