WWNO News Reports
7:52 pm
Fri May 20, 2011

Flooding Threat Sparks Worries Of Oil Contamination Along Atchafalaya Basin

New Orleans, La. – The Louisiana Bucket Brigade is asking the state environmental and natural resources departments for their plans on preventing floods from spreading oil and gas pollution - especially from uncovered oil waste pits. And it wants sampling data. Brigade program manager Anna Hrybyk (AH'-nah RYE'-bik) says there are thousands of potential problems in the Atchafalaya River basin.

"In the path of the flood there are 13,000 oil and gas wells, 4,000 abandoned oil waste pits and 3,600 oil and gas extraction operations going on. So these are all vulnerable to the threat of flooding and then have the potential to cause widespread chemical contamination."

A spokeswoman for the Department of Natural Resources says the companies are considered responsible parties, meaning they're charged with containment and clean-up. Companies submit contingency plans to the state for approval. The state Natural Resources conservation office issued an emergency order May 13th to shut in and secure wells as needed, and protect oil fields. Flyovers are being conducted by the state to find any leaks. Hrybyk says it's hard to spot problems on the ground from aerial inspections.
For WWNO, I'm Eileen Fleming.