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US Coast Guard joins huge post-Katrina operation to scoop up oil spills

Lloyds List: US Coast Guard joins huge post-Katrina operation to scoop up oil spills

Biggest operation at Cox Bay on Mississippi River recovers 1m gallons, writes Michael Grey: “More than 1m gallons of oil had also been discharged from Shell’s facility at Pilot Town in the Mississippi Delta, although some 718,000 gallons had been recovered and 105,000 evaporated or naturally dispersed.”

Wednesday Sept 21, 2005

A joint operation between the US Coast Guard and its state and industry partners to contain and recover oil spilt as a result of Hurricane Katrina is said to be making good progress on multiple spills throughout southern Louisiana.

Described as an ‘aggressive’ response under the unified command, the operations have seen skimmers, booms, recovery vehicles and vacuum trucks, along with response boats and other craft deployed at the multiple spills which range from small ones to multi-million gallon incidents.

The operation, which had earlier been hampered by access problems and difficulties associated with wreckage and debris mixed with the oil, is now progressing, although damage assessments continue.

At the biggest of the spills, where some 3.78m gallons of oil had been discharged at Bass Enterprises Production Co’s facility at Cox Bay, near Mile marker 35 on the Mississippi River, the product was being contained naturally and was being pumped into barges for ongoing reclamation.

Nearly 1m gallons had been recovered in the operation leaving about 2m gallons contained and an estimated 1m gallons lost through evaporation.

Around 70 people were deployed in the recovery operation which saw 9,600 ft of boom on site along with 11 skimmers and 47 response boats.

More than 1m gallons of oil had also been discharged from Shell’s facility at Pilot Town in the Mississippi Delta, although some 718,000 gallons had been recovered and 105,000 evaporated or naturally dispersed.

Some 128,000 gallons were contained leaving about 87,000 gallons uncontained. The operation on this site, past which vessels in transit were required to maintain slow speed, included some 7,000 ft of boom and 19 response boats and vehicles. Shell was also engaged in assisting the local authorities in repairing the damaged levee.

A round-the-clock operation was under way at the Murphy Oil Corp facility at Meraux near Mile marker 87 in the Mississippi River, which had recovered some 305,000 gallons from an estimated 819,000 gallons of oil discharged in the hurricane.

Some 113 persons were on site, with 4,800 ft of boom, 21 skimmers and 18 vacuum trucks and 37 additional response vehicles.

Barges, skimmers, pumps and other resources were deployed along with 127 emergency responders at a Chevron facility near Mile marker 30 on the Mississippi where around 991,000 gallons had been released, engaged in oil recovery, debris removal and clean-up.

In addition to the major spills recovery and cleanup, operations are proceeding at five medium spills, where between 10,000 and 100,000 gallons have been released, and some 35 minor spills of less than 10,000 gallons which are presently being co-ordinated by the Coast Guard.

The International Spill Control Organisation says it is monitoring the efforts in the affected areas and will subsequently provide information on lessons from the huge operation.

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