On Sept. 5, an offshore pipeline leak near Bay Long, La. sent 5,300 gallons of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico. An excavating marsh buggy operated by Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Company accidentally cut through the pipeline while rebuilding Chenier Ronquille Island, which sits on the edge of Bay Long, part of the southern edge of Barataria Bay.
The severed pipeline is owned by Harvest Pipeline Company, an affiliate of Houston-based Hilcorp Energy.
Hilcorp Energy has been having a tough go of it lately. This pipeline leak is just the latest in a string of misfortune recently plaguing Hilcorp. It was reported on July 26 that an abandoned flow line owned by Hilcorp spilled 4,200 gallons of crude oil near Lake Grande Ecaille. In June, the Louisiana Oysterman Association filed a lawsuit against Hilcorp, charging that the company is smothering oyster leases in the bay by dredging access channels to one of its wells.
This incident isn’t the Deepwater Horizon disaster by any stretch of the imagination, but that doesn’t diminish its ecological impact. Over 6,000 gallons of oily water have been recovered as of Sept. 12 and clean-up employees have caught and treated more than 200 birds.
The Bay Long pipeline leak also isn’t devoid of irony. The accident was caused by a contractor working on a restoration project tied to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Last week’s pipeline leak has actually disrupted the $36 million dollar project.
On Sept. 9, the U.S. Coast Guard issued a statement from the “unified command” — federal and state agencies — and the “responsible parties” for the pipeline leak. They are all working together to clear up the accident. As of the time of the statement, 170 workers, 33 boats, 9 skimmers, and more than 12,000 feet of hard-boom have been deployed to “contain and recover the product.”
Such is the peril of the oil industry. So long as crude oil continues to be excavated, so shall accidents like these occur.
Featured image via Wikimedia Commons.