The state Department of Wildlife and Fisheries is closing off 13 miles of waters off Port Fouchon after a tar mat and tar balls surfaced. The Coast Guard is not yet ready to say it’s oil from the BP spill two years ago.
Coast Guard Captain Peter Gaultier says reports of oil and tar balls are not unusual after a big storm.
“You can absolutely expect that there’s going to be oil spills after a hurricane rolls over. What we’ve seen is everything; from drums that lifted out of locations and that stranded. We have three grounded deep-draft vessels, big cargo ships, that aren’t leaking oil and really aren’t in danger but that we need to salvage.”
State coastal adviser Garret Graves says the state waters just closed are near an area heavily oiled by BP’s blown-out well. He says tests are being done to determine where the oil came from. The Coast Guard is also testing samples taken from oiled birds, some of which died. They were found at Myrtle Grove — another area doused by the BP spill, but the Coast Guard says it was likely from storage tanks.
Coast Guard Admiral Robert Papp says securing pollution leaks is only one part of the clean-up from Hurricane Isaac.
“Our duties really go the full range. Not only do we go out there and rescue people in the aftermath of the storm, but it’s also our job to get commerce going again. To make sure the area is resilient, that ships can get back in here and discharge their cargo and their passengers.”
The Coast Guard lab that is testing oil found on the dead birds is expected to have results of its origin next week.