Speed Reads

The wrong kind of slick

There's a new oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and nobody knows who is responsible

The fallout from Hurricane Ida continues, as the death toll mounts, hundreds of thousands remain without power, and residents in hard-hit areas clean up their devastated homes and communities. One relatively underreported result of the storm is an oil spill in the Bay Marchand area of the Gulf of Mexico. A "miles-long" oil slick was first spotted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on Sept. 1, but its source remained an unfortunate mystery until Sept. 5, when divers at the site discovered a broken 12-inch-diameter pipeline on the ocean floor.

So the source of the leak has been identified, but what remains unclear is who owns or is responsible for the broken pipeline. Houston-based Talos Energy is paying for the cleanup but says the pipe doesn't belong to them. While any organization responsible for a sizable oil spill is required to alert the government, that can be tricky in an area so pockmarked with drilling infrastructure, new and old. As NPR explained, the Gulf "has been drilled for oil and gas for decades. Federal leasing maps show it contains a latticework of old pipelines, plugged wells and abandoned platforms, along with newer infrastructure still in use."

The good news is the oil slick isn't near the Louisiana shoreline, where it could do significantly more environmental damage, and it's being addressed. The bad news is this pipe appears to still be leaking, and it is "one of dozens of reported environmental hazards state and federal regulators are tracking in Louisiana and the Gulf" in Ida's wake, NPR said.