Published March 20, 2011
The U.S. Coast Guard says there is some sort of substance in the water in the Gulf of Mexico, and officials are collecting samples to determine what it is, according to The Associated Press.
Coast Guard spokeswoman Casey Ranel says the agency is sending out a cutter Sunday to collect samples of the substance, the AP reports. Ranel says an airplane is also expected to fly over so officials can get a better idea of what’s in the water.
A press release sent Saturday night said the Coast Guard was investigating reports of an oil sheen in the Gulf. The Coast Guard says there is a substance in the water, though officials have yet to determine what it is.
Ranel says dredging had been going on not far away at the mouth of the Mississippi River, and it's possible the substance is silt dredged from the bottom, according to The Associated Press.
Pollution investigators and a helicopter crew are following up on two calls to the National Response Center, the federal point of contact for reporting oil and chemical spills, Paul Barnard, an operations controller for Coast Guard Sector New Orleans, told the Times-Picayune.
Nearly one year after the BP oil rig explosion that caused 4.9 million barrels of oil to pollute the Gulf of Mexico, a pilot flying over the area reported a sheen of about a half-mile long and a half-mile wide, according to Barnard. Another caller reported a much larger sheen – about 100 miles long.
The larger oil slick was spotted Saturday off Grand Isle, Louisiana, and reported by pilot Bonny Schumaker, who heads up the California-based environmental nonprofit “On Wings of Care.” Schumaker told oilspillaction.com that the slick is rapidly expanding, and reports that she will be returning to the site as soon as possible to further investigate the situation.
The Coast Guard is investigating the area near the Matterhorn well site, about 20 miles north of the BP Deepwater Horizon site, according to the Times-Picayune. The Matterhorn field includes a deepwater drilling platform owned by W&T Technology. It was acquired last year from TotalFinaElf E&P.