Federal and state agencies are investigating what the Coast Guard described as a brown “oily substance” in Breton Sound, raising fears among some Plaquemines Parish officials that oil from last year’s catastrophic BP spill still lingers in the Gulf of Mexico.
A fisher notified Coast Guard personnel in New Orleans on Wednesday about 7 a.m. that he spotted oil about two miles southeast of Baptiste Collette Pass, off the Mississippi River’s east bank across from Venice. Reports vary on the amount but indicate the substance covers a seven-mile swath of water.
The source has not been determined, but Coast Guard pollution investigators went to the scene by boat Wednesday to collect samples, which will be sent to a laboratory for testing. The Coast Guard also dispatched a helicopter from Air Station New Orleans for an aerial investigation.
Plaquemines Parish officials also sent a port authority boat to investigate the substance and notified BP, said Kurt Fromherz, spokesman for Plaquemines President Billy Nungesser.
“We’ve notified them (BP) in the event it is remnants of the BP spill,” Fromherz said. “We don’t know the source, but we’re trying to stay on top of things.”
Oil Mop was hired to “conduct any necessary cleanup operations” and was sending barges, boats and containment boom to Venice, according to the Coast Guard. The Guard also tapped the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund to pay for an immediate response and appointed Capt. Edwin Stanton, commander of Sector New Orleans, as the federal on-scene coordinator.