Hurricane Ida: divers find broken pipeline in search for source of Gulf oil spill

Coast Guard says potential slicks spotted in Gulf of Mexico after the powerful storm wreaked havoc in the region last week

Divers searching for the source of an oil spill spotted in the Gulf of Mexico in the wake of Hurricane Ida have identified a broken pipeline on the ocean floor as the possible cause.

Talos Energy, the Houston-based company currently paying for the cleanup, said in a statement issued on Sunday evening that the broken pipeline, which is around 30cm (1ft) in diameter, did not belong to them.

The company said it is working with the US Coast Guard and other state and federal agencies to coordinate the response and identify the owner of the ruptured pipeline.

Divers also identified two 10cm-wide (4in) pipelines that were open and apparently abandoned. The company’s statement did not make clear if oil was leaking from the two smaller pipelines, but satellite images reviewed by the Associated Press on Saturday appeared to show at least three different slicks in the same area, the largest drifting more than a dozen miles (more than 19km) eastward along the Gulf coast.

Ida, one of the most powerful hurricanes ever to strike the US Gulf coast, made landfall last Sunday in Louisiana, destroying entire communities.

A satellite image shows an oil slick following Hurricane Ida, south of Port Fourchon, Louisiana, on 2 September.
A satellite image shows an oil slick following Hurricane Ida, south of Port Fourchon, Louisiana, on 2 September. Photograph: Maxar Technologies/Reuters

A US Coast Guard spokesman said Talos Energy had hired Clean Gulf Associates to respond to the suspected spill and contracted a private dive team to locate the source of the slick.

Coast Guard experts were monitoring reports and US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) satellite imagery to determine the scope of the spill, the spokesman said.

Once the source had been identified, the Coast Guard and partnering agencies would work on a recovery and source control plan, he added.

He said Clean Gulf Associates has put skimmers and a containment boom in the area to mitigate any further environmental impact.

Reuters and Associated Press contributed to this report

Staff and agencies

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