Oil spotted in Gulf; Coast Guard chopper goes airborne
BRETON SOUND, La. – Clean-up operations are underway off the east bank of Plaquemines Parish after fishermen reported a large swath of oil stretching for several miles.
The Coast Guard said the oil is located in an area two miles southeast of Baptiste Collette Pass.
The fishermen who spotted it said there’s no mistaking what their boats ran into Wednesday. Heading towards Breton Sound on an early morning fishing trip, charter boat fishing Captain Ron Price, of Fish Intimidator Guide Service, could smell something was very wrong.
“Halfway to the fishing spot, I was kind of overwhelmed with petroleum vapors,” Price said.
With two customers and his wife on board, he ran right into it.
“All of a sudden it was there — a mother load of oil was all around us. It was some of the thickest stuff I’ve seen,” Price said.
Charter boat Captain Rick Seither, of Paradise Plus Charters, fishing on his day off with his brother in law, came across the oil as well. He said it covered at least two miles.
“We worked for BP for seven months, so we know what oil looks like. It was quite a bit, as far as you could see in every direction,” Seither said.
Wednesday afternoon the Coast Guard deployed four pollution investigators to the scene to take samples and to try to determine where the oil came from.
“From the pictures, it looks like the same thing we have been seeing in Bay Jimmy,” said Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser.
Nungesser said he suspects it’s residual oil from last year’s BP oil spill, which hit the parish hard. He fears that warmer air and water temperatures may be causing some of the old oil to surface.
“If this is oil out there that has come up from the bottom — you know, all along people have said, ‘Beware of the hot summer.’ When that oil is heated up and all of that oil that’s on the bottom, if it loosens up and comes up,” Nungesser said.
Price grabbed the only container they had on hand, an empty water bottle, and collected a sample.
It’s the last thing he wanted to see on the water, especially with customers on board.
“Our careers have been so shattered, you know, between hurricanes, spills. This year it’s the high river. That’s all we need is one more shot of negative publicity for us. We can start kissing a lot of our future business goodbye,” Price said.
Five boats and containment boom were on their way to the scene Wednesday night.
At this point, it’s not clear where this oil may have come from. and whether or not it has anything to do with last year’s spill.