Just hours after a new sizable oil slick was discovered in the Gulf of Mexico off the Louisiana coast, a Houston-based energy company came forward to claim responsibility for the latest round of crude tainting the area.
Anglo-Suisse Offshore Partners issued a statement last night expressing "surprise" that what it claimed was a minor leak from a well that's been out of use for some time could have produced miles-long slicks that garnered national media attention. The company has been in the process of permanently plugging the well -- located in a shallow area about 30 miles southeast of Grand Isle, La. Anglo-Suisse owned a cluster of five platforms in that area that were destroyed by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
According to the Times-Picayune's David Hammer, Anglo-Suisse has filed three incident reports with the Coast Guard since last Friday. In those documents, Hammer reports, the company explained that as it used a remotely operated submarine to plug the well, some oil had been discharged into the Gulf.
However, the company claimed in those reports that it had spilled less than five gallons of crude -- an amount far too small to account for the scope of the spill shown in aerial photographs. Nor would five gallons of crude square with reports of oil washing up over a 30 mile stretch of Louisiana's shoreline.
The confusion surrounding this latest Gulf spill points up a fatal flaw of America's oil pollution reporting system, which operates via a virtual honor code. Under present reporting protocols, polluters are tasked with the responsibility of turning themselves in when they're responsible for an accident -- knowing all the while that a federal inspector will probably never be dispatched to investigate.
By apparently under-reporting the scale of the spill, Anglo-Suisse may have hoped to sidestep any government oversight -- along with the hefty fines that could potentially come with it -- of the latest incident. In any event, now that the company is on the record as the responsible party, it will be on the hook for the full cleanup expenses. The one bit of good news: Anglo-Suisse also announced last night that it had successfully plugged the damaged well.
(Photo of trawler dragging nets through oily waters via John Wathen's Photobucket page)
source : news.yahoo