Off limits: Court orders secure zone around Deepwater Horizon wreckage *update*

The Department of Justice has asked that a 750-foot security zone be put in place surrounding the wreckage and debris of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig sitting 5,000 feet below the surface in the Gulf of Mexico.

“The court found it in the interest of the public to protect the search area and any evidence located in the area against intentional or unintentional loss, the order said,” according to a Department of Justice release (we’re trying to hunt down the actual filings). “It ordered the United States to inform the public and advise all known parties capable of intruding into the security zone.”

“The order will be enforced by the United States using the full range of security assets available, including vessels, aircraft or other appropriate means and equipment.”

The security zone will remain in place until Oct. 8, 2011 unless renewed for good cause, the court ordered.

A first thought: were some of the companies actually messing with the wreckage? There appear to be ships with ROVs still in the area based on the SpillCam feeds.

Second thought: Any plans to get the 750,000 gallons of diesel that were in the rig’s tanks at the time of the sinking off the rig before it starts to leak?

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*Update*

According to a copy of the order it was signed more than two weeks ago, on Oct. 8, by a magistrate judge in New Orleans, not the district court judge overseeing the civil lawsuits.

A spokesman for the Department of Justice said the government’s motion asking for the security zone was filed under seal. Since the order was signed, “all parties known to have capabilities of entering” the site — i.e. companies with ROVs —  have been told they do not have the right to do so.

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