Two Democratic lawmakers are asking the Coast Guard to investigate a sheen that appeared last week on the Gulf of Mexico surface near the site of the BP well that blew out and caused the 2010 oil spill.
U.S. Reps. Henry Waxman of California and Edward Markey of Massachusetts, both of whom led investigations of BP after the disaster off the Louisiana coast, sent a letter to the Coast Guard asking it to find out more about the source of the sheen. They contended that BP has refused to provide information.
“The presence of this new sheen raises significant questions about whether there might be a continuing danger to the environment posed by oil trapped in the Deepwater Horizon wreckage and the Macondo well,” they wrote in their letter.
Transocean’s Deepwater Horizon drilling rig, which was working on the Macondo well under contract with BP, exploded and sank when the well blew out. Eleven rig workers died.
The lawmakers have asked the Coast Guard for documents demonstrating how much oil and other drilling fluids could be trapped in the wreckage of the rig, the riser pipe that connected it to the well or equipment BP used in its attempts to stop the oil flow. They also asked for a written response by Dec. 21 on whether BP could capture or remove any remaining trapped oil.
BP said it will use underwater robot cameras starting Sunday to look for the sheen’s source.
“BP will work with the Coast Guard and Transocean on any further steps, as needed, to address the results,” BP spokesman Brett Clanton said.
The Coast Guard said BP reported the sheen last month and that satellite imagery has verified it.
An earlier sheen appeared in September. Investigators determined it leaked from a containment vessel BP used in a failed bid to capture the flowing oil in the weeks after the Macondo blew out on April 20, 2010.