The Big Greasy

NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana, September 16, 2005 (ENS) - Four major oil spills and dozens of smaller ones have released at least 7.2 million gallons of oil into Louisiana waters as a result of Hurricane Katrina, U.S. Coast Guard figures show. Most of that oil has gone into the Mississippi River and downstream into the Gulf of Mexico.

The largest spill is 3.78 million gallons discharged from Bass Enterprises Production Company located in Cox Bay, Louisiana, near mile marker 35 on the Mississippi River.

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President George W. Bush receives a briefing from Chevron Refinery Manager Roland Kell with Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour at the Chevron Pascagoula Refinery in Mississippi on Thursday. (Photo by Eric Draper courtesy )
The oil at the Bass Enterprises Production Company Cox Bay Facility is contained mechanically and naturally and is being recovered and pumped into barges for transport to reclamation facilities.

Some 68 people and 47 boats are responding to this spill. The Coast Guard says about half the spilled oil has been contained, about a quarter has been recovered, and the rest has evaporated. Bass Enterprises said it appreciates the coordination and support of all of the state and federal agencies involved in the recovery process.

The second largest spill is from the Shell facility at Pilot Town, Louisiana, near mile marker 3 on the Mississippi River where at least 1.05 million gallons were discharged into the river. Just over 718,000 gallons have been recovered and about 129,000 gallons have been contained, but 87,000 gallons flowed down the Mississippi. The rest evaporated or was lost to what the Coast Guard calls "natural dispersion."

The Coast Guard says 39 people and 9 response boats and vehicles are responding to the Shell spill.

The third largest spill is 991,000 gallons that flowed from the Chevron facility at Empire, Louisiana, near mile marker 30 on the Mississippi River. Almost all this oil naturally dispersed and evaporated. At least 127 people with pumps, heavy equipment, barges and vaccuum trucks are responding to this spill.

The smallest of the major oil spills occurred at the Murphy Oil Corporation at Meraux, Louisiana, near mile marker 87 on the Mississippi River. There, 819,000 gallons of oil were discharged, about 305,000 gallons of the oil was recovered, and about 196,000 gallons contained.

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Oil was spilled from the Murphy Oil facility at Meraux and has seeped into the residential areas surrounding the site of the spill. (Photo courtesy USCG)
The Coast Guard emphasizes that in all these cleanup efforts, health and human safety remains the highest priority. All levels of government are working together on recovery efforts.

Each company has ongoing damage assessments underway, as well as debris removal and cleanup efforts.

In addition, there are five medium oil spills between 10,000 and 100,000 gallons.

A 25,000 gallon spill has occurred at Venice Energy Services Company (Dynegy) Venice, Louisiana, near Pass Tante Phine at the main channel of the Mississippi River, and smaller spills have occured at Sundown Energy at West Potash, Lousiana; Bass Enterprises Production Company Point a la Hache, Lousiana; Shell Pipeline Oil LP at Nairn, Louisiana, near mile marker 35, and Chevron at Port Fourchon, Louisiana.

The Unified Command is comprised of federal, state and industry partners: the U.S. Coast Guard, Louisiana Oil Spill Coordinating Office in cooperation with their Louisiana Trustees, Department of Natural Resources, Department of Fish and Wildlife, Department of Environmental Quality, Murphy Oil Corporation, Bass Enterprises, Shell, Chevron, Dynegy and Sundown Energy.

Approximately 35 minor spills are also being coordinated by the Coast Guard.