Hurricane Ida Oil Spill Could Cause Lasting Effects

By Micah-Simone Durrant

On Monday, Sept. 6, Divers responding to an oil spill caused by Hurricane Ida placed a containment dome over the affected pipeline in the Gulf of Mexico. 

Talos Energy, the company responsible for the recovery efforts, said in a statement issued on Sunday, Sept. 5 that the burst pipeline, located off the coast of Louisiana, does not belong to them. 

“Although the spill was unrelated to our operations, it was important to mobilize and identify the source and to contain the release to reduce safety and environmental risks,“ said John Spath, Talos Senior Vice President of Production Operations. 

The oil spill associated with Talos Energy  is one of the 350 reports of oil spills in the gulf since Hurricane Ida hit Louisiana, according to an article by CBS

United States Coast Guard (USCG) visual surveillance indicated that since the pipeline’s containment, contamination had decreased. Furthermore, as of Sept. 7, they had not observed any effects on the Gulf’s shoreline or wildlife. 

However, on Sept 9, The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries reported over 100 oiled birds, with more expected, in Louisiana as a result of the spill. Some of these birds required treatment at a designated rehabilitation location. 

Other wildlife such as alligators, river otters, and nutria had also been found covered in oil. It may take weeks to complete recovery efforts for these animals. 

“Not only could it affect the marine birds by causing kidney and lung damage, but oil spills can damage fish populations,” said Ellie Hughes, senior marine science and biology major. “This could affect the food web and our seafood industry, oil spills not only affect marine life, but us too.”

After Hurricane Ida made landfall on Aug. 29, The Associated Press reported that aerial photos showed a brown and black oil slick spreading about 2 miles (3 kilometers) south of Port Fourchon, Louisiana. 

Not long after, Talos identified the source as a broken and displaced pipeline measuring one-foot in diameter located in the ocean floor.

Talos then reported that the rate of oil appearing on the surface had slowed dramatically over the weekend and that no new heavy black crude had been seen since Sept. 5.

“Oil spills are an inherent consequence of there being dozens and dozens of oil companies all drilling in the Gulf,” said Grace Iverson, junior environmental science major. “There are a lot of old pipelines that have been abandoned and are hazardous for the pipes that are currently in use.”

According to Iverson, to prevent oil spills, “we need transparency from these oil companies about the sustainability of their drilling processes so that we can advocate for change.”

It is not yet confirmed how much oil was released into the water. However, Talos, USCG, and Louisiana state officials will continue an investigation to identify the owner of the now repaired pipeline. 

Furthermore, involved parties are working to receive approval to permanently repair the pipeline. A timeline for repair operations is still being determined.

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

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