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More than a million gallons of oil flow into the Gulf of Mexico

Skimming ships are working to contain and recover oil from a spill in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Louisiana that the U.S. Coast Guard estimated Tuesday to be at least 1.1 million of gallons.

The spill was discovered Thursday near a 67-mile pipeline operated by Main Pass Oil Gathering Co., owned by Houston-based Third Coast Infrastructure, and the Coast Guard said it was still investigating whether that pipeline was the source of contamination.

Pilots conducting reconnaissance flights saw oil moving southwest from Plaquemines Parish on Friday. Beneath the surface, “remotely operated vehicles, deployed Friday morning, continue to examine the pipeline without finding a source area at this time,” the Coast Guard said in a statement Monday. “Vehicles will continue to inspect the pipeline weather conditions permitting. »

The oil spill, officially called the MPOG11015 incident, is the latest in a region that has seen some of the worst offshore oil disasters in the country’s history.

In 2010, 130 million gallons of crude spilled into the Gulf of Mexico after an explosion on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig. Six years earlier, a hurricane toppled a Taylor Energy platform, causing crude to leak from several broken oil wells.

Since 2004, the lesser-known Taylor Energy spill continued without notice for nearly six years, and at least 30 million gallons entered the Gulf, according to a study by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

British Petroleum has paid more than $14 billion in fines and damages over the Deepwater Horizon disaster. Taylor Energy fought demands from the federal government to stop and clean up its spill before finally agreeing to liquidate its assets and put $400 million into trust last year.

Although the Coast Guard named Main Pass Oil Gathering in its reports on the spill, it did not identify the company as the responsible party. Officials with Main Pass and its owner, Third Coast, did not respond to phone calls or emails Tuesday.

The pipeline was shut down early Thursday morning. Several pipeline operators are in the area of ​​the leak, New Orleans Guard Sector Commander Capt. Kelly Denning told the New Orleans Times-Picayune, but the Main Pass pipeline was the suspected source.

Kelly said the company had “done everything we and the state asked of them,” according to the report.

Oil spills in the Gulf of Mexico can harm a variety of wildlife. According to NOAA, the Deepwater Horizon incident contaminated sea turtle habitat and harmed marine mammals, birds, fish and invertebrates.

Although the latest incident is smaller, at least one environmental group fears the consequences.

“Ocean wildlife will almost certainly pay a terrible price for this massive pipeline spill, which is less an accident than an entirely predictable consequence of offshore oil operations,” said Kristen Monsell, of the Center for Biological Diversity’s oceans program. , in a press release.

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