Oil sheens spotted in the Gulf of Mexico near the site of BP’s failed Macondo well may be coming from the wreckage of the Deepwater Horizon rig, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.
Sheens have been spotted near the accident site, leading some environmentalists and plaintiffs to speculate that the well was leaking again.
The government posted video of the Macondo well and the relief well taken by remote-controlled submarines sent down to the sites earlier this month. Neither site appears to be leaking, the Coast Guard said.
On Tuesday, the Coast Guard issued a Notice of Federal Interest to Transocean, the owner of the Deepwater Horizon rig, which is still sitting on the seafloor near the wells. The notice puts a potential responsible party on notice it may be financially responsible for cleanup costs and damages under the Oil Pollution Act of 1990.
“This is part of the process we take whenever there is an oil sighting that cannot be immediately attributed to a specific source,” said Capt. Jonathan Burton, commanding officer Marine Safety Unit Morgan City. “We will actively work with Transocean to discuss options to determine whether or not the wreckage is the cause.”
The oil may be leaking from the severed riser pipe that had connected the well on the seafloor with the rig, the Coast Guard said. It is now twisted and severed on the seafloor.
“If a volume of oil has remained in the riser, there is no question that it is oil from BP’s Macondo well,” said Brian Kennedy, a spokesman for Transocean. “As owner and operator, BP is the responsible party for all fluids that emanated from the Macondo well head, and BP has repeatedly acknowledged that responsibility. Transocean has accepted responsible party status for rig fluids, such as diesel fuel, consistent with the law.” He said Transocean is committed to working with BP, the Coast Guard and others to investigate the sheen reports.
“As we have said and the U.S. Coast Guard now confirms, the Macondo well is not leaking oil and is not the source of the sheens,” BP said. “We will continue to cooperate with the Coast Guard to investigate other possible sources, including Transocean’s riser.”