BP is once again making headlines in the Gulf of Mexico, this time due to oil seeping from the abandoned containment dome used to help stop the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
According to the Christian Science Monitor, oil began seeping into the Gulf at the rate of approximately 100 gallons per day near the Macondo wellhead. The wellhead is at the site of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, a spill which became the worst environmental disaster in American history.
Oil Sheen Reported
On September 16th of this year, an oil sheen was discovered by BP near the Macondo wellhead after satellite images taken on Sept. 9th and Sept. 14th reveled the leaking oil. The sheen is approximately
An oil sheen can be seen in the Gulf of Mexico on September 21, 2012
50 miles off the coast of Louisiana. The Coast Guard and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), with assistance from BP, are conducting regular assessments of the sheen by aircraft and boat. The Coast Guard's Marine Safety Lab reported that the size of the sheen size varied at times "depending on the conditions present." Officials with the Coast Guard told The Times-Picayune :
"The Gulf Coast Incident Management Team remains committed to the continued cleanup of the Gulf Coast and all shorelines affected as a result of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion. The FOSC (Federal On-Scene Coordinators) is determined to continue response activities to remove all oil where it is technologically feasible, environmentally beneficial and safe for workers to perform recovery operations."Oil Leak Confirmed
On Thursday of this week, BP and the Deepwater Horizon Joint Information Center confirmed that remote operated vehicles (ROVs) were deployed to the Macondo wellhead where oil samples were collected. In a press release issued by BP on Thursday, they stated they were able to successfully identify the piece of containment equipment that was leaking intermittent drops of oil from openings on the top and side of a cofferdam, a steel container that was lowered over a leaking drill pipe during the 2010 oil spill. The samples collected were analyzed and matched those found in an oil sheen first reported visible last month.
The Coast Guard has notified both BP and Transocean, owner of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, that they may be held financially responsible for the new oil.
The timing of the leak comes at a time when officials with BP and the U.S. Government are in discussions about a possible financial settlement prior to the the Deepwater Horizon case going to trial. The Houston Chronicle reports that scientists believe the leaking oil, as well as oil from the initial explosion, could be dredged up for months and years to come.
An email was sent on Thursday to the Department of Justice Environmental and Natural Resources Division asking how the new oil leak would affect settlement negotiations. As of publication, no response has been received.