Image by Jeff Stein from Pixabay

Platform collapses, oil barrel falls into the water and a spill occurs. This can ruin a day.

Emergency cleanup contractors worked Tuesday to contain a spill of almost 14,000 gallons of crude oil into Terrebonne Bay just north of Timbalier Island after part of Houston-based Hilcorp Energy’s Caillou Island oil platform collapsed, the Coast Guard said. Caillou Island is an open-water area where several oil platforms are located. As of Tuesday afternoon, 6,200 feet of containment boom had been deployed, three skimming vessels were on the scene and two other vessels were holding boom in place to allow oil to be funneled into the skimmer vessels, the Coast Guard said. Three other fast-response vessels were at the spill location. The Coast Guard and the Louisiana Department of Wildlife & Fisheries “were conducting on-water assessments and oversight,” Coast Guard said.

So far, wildlife has not been impacted – yet.

A marine safety information bulletin issued by the agency on Monday night warned that spilled oil was projected to drift west, “cross the Houma Navigation Canal between miles -1 to 5, and enter Lake Pelto with shoreline impacts by mid-day” on Tuesday. But on Tuesday afternoon, the Coast Guard said there were no reports of effects on wildlife. The collapsed tank was removed Monday night, the agency said. The Coast Guard’s National Response Center notified the agency’s Houma marine safety unit on Monday that “the platform experienced a structural failure causing a tank to fall into the water and spill the oil.” The information reported to the center is not yet posted on its public list of emergency incidents, which on Tuesday had only been updated through Aug. 7, a day before the incident. The site is updated weekly. “The cause of the incident is still under investigation,” the Coast Guard said. “Automated systems at the facility secured the facility and alerted operators to the collapsed tank. The platform remains secured.” No injuries were reported.

This is a “unified” cleanup so there are many involved from both government and civilian sides.

The Coast Guard has implemented “unified command” procedures, called for in the case of oil spills under the federal Oil Pollution Act of 1990. Included in that joint body, which is responsible for both cleanup and investigation of the spill, are the Coast Guard, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, the Louisiana Oil Spill Coordinator and the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality; Hilcorp, the company responsible for the spill; and the two companies hired to oversee the cleanup: Environmental Safety & Health Consulting Services, and Forefront. Hilcorp has set up a telephone claims line for people affected by the spill: (281) 486-5511. The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Hilcorp is active in Louisiana and has a checkered past.

Hilcorp, formed in 1989, has a number of oil and natural gas wells in Louisiana. It recently announced plans to expand its operations to include deepwater Gulf of Mexico wells. The company has had several other oil spill incidents. In 2021, Hilcorp filed more than a dozen reports with the response center after Hurricane Ida, reporting crude oil or sheens at six locations in Terrebonne Parish, six in Plaquemines and four in Jefferson. The company also was identified by the Coast Guard in March 2017 as the owner of an abandoned well leaking oil and gas near the mouth of the Mississippi River. In 2018, Hilcorp agreed to pay Louisiana oyster growers $920,000 to settle a lawsuit over the company’s dredging through oyster-growing areas without a permit in 2016.

The cost of oil to this state is a lot. Oil spills and pipelines leak.

14,000 gallons of crude spilled
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