Entries in Oil Spill (11)


Coast Guard Checking Oil Slick In the Gulf of Mexico

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW ORLEANS) -- The Coast Guard is investigating reports of an oil slick near wells operated by Shell Oil in the Gulf of Mexico.

Petty Officer 1st Class Jeremy McClure said Thursday that a Coast Guard helicopter has been dispatched to the scene, approximately 130 miles southeast of New Orleans, to check out what has been described as a 10-mile long, half-mile wide sheen.

In a statement, Shell said it is “confident at this time that the sheen did not originate from” its properties, and that a “thorough inspection” of its local assets found that “operations in the area are normal with no sign of leaks.”

“We have also confirmed there are no well control issues associated with our drilling operations in the area,” the statement continued.

“Shell is continuing to cooperate with federal regulators in their efforts to determine the cause and nature of the sheen,” the company said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Report: Prosecutors Readying Criminal Charges Against BP Workers

U.S. Coast Guard via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Federal prosectors are reportedly working on criminal charges against BP employees over the Deepwater Horizon rig explosion in April 2010 that killed 11 people and sent millions of gallons of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico.

Citing people familiar with the matter, the Wall Street Journal reports prosecutors are looking at several Houston-based engineers and at least one of their supervisors who they believe may have given regulators false information about the drilling risks associated with the well.

Should the charges be brought against them, the employees may face up to five years in prison and a fine, the Journal says.  The newspaper's sources say the charges may be disclosed early next year.

The Department of Justice has not issued any comments on the matter.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Exxon Mobil: Leak Spreads Past Yellowstone River

Jupiterimages/ ThinkStock(LAUREL, Mont.) -- Exxon Mobil Corp. says damage caused by its oil pipeline leak into the Yellowstone River could go beyond the confines of the waterway.

An Exxon Mobil pipeline ruptured Friday night releasing tens of thousands of gallons of oil into the river. The pipeline typically transports 40,000 gallon barrels of oil each day.

Since the spill, the Texas based oil company reports more than 280 people are working to clean the contaminated area, a span which has extended miles from the original site. Cleanup crews faced extra obstacles this weekend as they worked in rough, high, and muddy water.

Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer is scheduled to survey the damage Tuesday.

Investigations into the cause of the leak are ongoing.

Copyright 2011 ABC news Radio


Hundred-Mile Long Oil Sheen Reported in the Gulf

U.S. Coast Guard via Getty Images (file)(NEW ORLEANS) -- The U.S. Coast Guard tells ABC News it is gathering samples of an unknown substance in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Louisiana.

The New Orleans Times-Picayune is reporting that the National Response Center received at least two calls this weekend, one that described a half-mile long sheen along the water’s surface and another that reported a sheen nearly 100 miles in length.

“No [oil] sheen was seen,” Coast Guard spokeswoman Casey Ranel told ABC News on Sunday. “There was a substance seen in the water but there was no sheen.”

Ranel says the samples collected could be anything, from algae to silt.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Submarine Dive Finds Oil, Dead Sea Life at Bottom of Gulf of Mexico

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW ORLEANS) -- A mile below the surface in the Gulf of Mexico, there is little sign of life.

"It looks like everything's dead," University of Georgia professor Samantha Joye said.

In an exclusive trip aboard the U.S. Navy's deep-ocean research submersible Alvin, ABC News was given the chance to observe the impact of this summer's massive oil spill that most will never see. The ocean floor appears to be littered with twigs, but Joye points out that they are actually dead worms and that Alvin is sitting on top of what is considered an 80-square mile kill zone.

Aboard the Alvin Thursday, Joey said she saw "about three to four inches of material." That as BP, the company responsible for the spill, is challenging government estimates that 200 million gallons of crude spill from its runaway well. London-based BP now insists it's half that. But 5,000 feet down, the oil appears to be everywhere. The government estimates that less than 25 percent of the oil remains, but these scientists say it's not gone, just settled at the bottom of the ocean.

The water in most places appears to be clear, a stark contrast to the oil that covered miles of ocean after the April 20 Deepwater Horizon rig explosion, which killed 11 workers. But Joye said what was once on the surface has now sunk.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Obama: No New Offshore Oil Drilling in East

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The Obama administration, reversing itself in the wake of April's BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, has let it be known that it will maintain a long-standing ban on offshore oil drilling off the East Coast or western coast of Florida -- and political activists of all stripes are weighing in with delight or outrage.

Charlie Crist, the outgoing governor of Florida (a Republican turned Independent this year), told local reporters in Tallahassee the decision was "wonderful news."

"That's news that will be very favorably received by the tourist industry throughout the state, but also by the people," Crist said.

Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Wash., the ranking member of the House Natural Resources Committee, said the administration was continuing a "misguided policy." "The Administration is taking the wrong approach in responding to the BP spill and creating energy jobs in this country.  The answer isn’t to give up and say, ‘America can’t figure it out, we’ll rely on other countries to produce our energy.’  The answer is to find out what went wrong and make effective, timely reforms to ensure that U.S. offshore drilling is the safest in the world," said Hastings.

Environmental groups, on the other hand, applauded. “As we saw this summer, offshore oil drilling cannot be done safely," said Andrew Sharpless, CEO of the group Oceana.  "It wrecks fisheries, kills the jobs that depend upon them, and contaminates beaches. This decision is a wise and sensible step to protect Florida, the Atlantic coast and the Pacific coast from an inevitable disaster from expanded drilling.  It’s great to see the government acting in a strong, clear and far-sighted way to protect the oceans – and the people who work and depend on them."

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


NOAA Closes Areas of the Gulf, Tar Balls Found on Sea Floor

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(SILVER SPRING, Md.) -- For the first time in months, areas of the Gulf of Mexico have been closed due to oil.

The NOAA Wednesday closed over 4,200 square miles of gulf waters off of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama from royal red shrimping after fishermen trawling the Gulf floor discovered tarballs in their nets.

"The fishery is the only trawl fishery that operates at the deep depths where the tar balls were found and we have not received reports of any other gear or fishery interactions with tar balls," said Roy Crabtree, assistant NOAA administrator for NOAA’s Fisheries Service southeast region.  "Our primary concerns are public safety and ensuring the integrity of the Gulf’s seafood supply."

The action is only cautionary as tests are being conducted to determine if the tar is a product of the Deepwater Horizon/BP spill.

The same waters were reopened to commercial fishing on Nov. 15 after sensory and chemical testing had concluded that seafood in the area was safe.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Investigative Panel Says Substandard Cement Was Used at BP Well

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The first official finding by the presidential commission investigating last spring’s massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is a damning one.

The panel says the oil field services corporation Halliburton went ahead with sealing the bottom of the Macondo well several weeks before the April 20 explosion on the Deepwater Horizons rig, even though the company knew that the cement used in the job was unstable.

In all, results of three tests conducted by Halliburton indicated that the cement did not meet industry standards.  In one instance, Halliburton shared the findings with well operator BP, which allowed the work to continue.

Lead panel investigator Fred Bartlit, Jr. does not speculate whether the substandard cement used by Halliburton was the primary or sole cause of the blowout resulting in the largest accidental spill in the history of petroleum spills.  However, Bartlit says if the cement had held and kept oil and natural gas out of the well bore, the 200-million gallon leak would not have occurred.

Previously, BP has blamed Halliburton, the cement contractor, for being partially responsible for the faulty cement job.  Halliburton has denied culpability in the accident, saying it was BP’s flawed design and poor operations that led to the disaster that will have repercussions in the Gulf of Mexico for perhaps decades to come.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Oil Remains as Life Goes On 6 Months After BP Spill

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW ORLEANS) -- There is evidence that the Gulf of Mexico is healing: The deserted marina in Venice, Louisiana, once invaded by camera crews and work boats, has been reclaimed by charter boat captains who haul yellowfin tuna off their skiffs and hang them up with pride. Only seven percent of the Gulf is still closed to fishing. The fishermen -- and their smiles -- have returned.

But 40 miles south of New Orleans, oil from the BP spill six months ago continues to leach into the landscape.

The April 20 Deepwater Horizon rig explosion, 50 miles off the Louisiana coast, killed 11 workers and released nearly 180 million gallons of oil into the Gulf. Three months after the well was capped, the oil still keeps coming up.

Peter Lehrner, of the National Resource Defense Council, cited official estimates that say 50 percent of the leaked crude could still be in the Gulf. He says the government and BP need to put more effort into the cleanup. Every day the tide washes the marsh anew with oil. By morning, the reeds have been painted brown, and when the sun heats up the soggy turf, oil oozes out. He and his crew say they've vacuumed about 2,000 gallons a day from this spot alone for weeks.

By Tuesday, the cleanup effort had been scaled down and Lamere's team and others had been laid off. Coast Guard Rear Adm. Paul Zukunft, the government's on-scene coordinator, said that the number of cleanup workers has been cut from 48,000 to 13,000.

Nearly 200,000 have filed for damages and more than $1.4 billion has been disbursed from a $20 billion BP compensation fund. So far only 500 claims have been denied.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Administration Lifts Off-Shore Drilling Moratorium

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The Obama administration is lifting its moratorium on deepwater drilling, the Secretary of the Interior announced Tuesday, but it cautioned that offshore rigs will not resume drilling until operators meet new federal requirements on safety, spill response and blowout containment.

The announcement comes after a six-month ban imposed following the April 20th spill that leaked millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.

Salazar said he reached the decision after reviewing a report from Michael R. Bromwich of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement .
“I have reviewed Director Bromwich’s report many times and it affirms that through our reform agenda, we have made, and continue to make, significant progress in reducing the risks associated with deepwater drilling,” Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar said during a conference call with reporters. “Therefore, based on Director Bromwich’s report, other information we have gathered and intensive deliberations that I have had with him, I have decided that it is now appropriate to lift the suspension on deepwater drilling for those operators that are able to clear the higher bar we have set.”

Salazar said that before drilling may resume in deepwater sites, the CEOs of drilling operators must certify that the drilling rig has complied with all new and existing rules – including new safety rules, worse-case discharge planning requirements, testing protocols and third-party verifications.

The secretary added that with the Maconda Deepwater Horizon well now capped and killed, government oil spill response resources in the Gulf are now freed up and readily available in the event of any new emergency once drilling resumes.

“The truth is there will always be risks associated with deepwater drilling, but we have now reached a point where we have significantly in my view reduced those risks,” Salazar said. “We will still need oil and gas from Gulf of Mexico to power our cars, our homes and our industry, but we can and we will make the drilling of oil and gas in the Gulf of Mexico safer than it ever has been.”

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

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