Coast Guard Investigating Reports of Oil Spills After Ida

Black slick floating in the Gulf of Mexico near a rig
Photos captured by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration aircraft, Aug. 31, 2021 and reviewed by The Associated Press show a black slick floating in the Gulf of Mexico near a rig. (NOAA via AP)

WASHINGTON  — The U.S. Coast Guard says it is investigating reports of possible oil spills resulting from Hurricane Ida after the publication of aerial photos by The Associated Press.

Coast Guard spokesman Petty Officer 3rd Class Gabriel Wisdom said Thursday that aircraft were being dispatched to investigate reports of a miles-long slick in the Gulf of Mexico south of Port Fourchon, Louisiana.

Wisdom said aircraft would also fly over a major oil refinery along the Mississippi River south of New Orleans after a report of a rainbow-colored sheen in the floodwaters.

The AP first reported Wednesday about the possible spills after reviewing aerial images of the disaster zone taken by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The NOAA photos show a black and brown slick floating near a large rig with the name Enterprise Offshore Drilling painted on its helipad. The company, based in Houston, said Thursday that its Enterprise 205 rig was safely secured and evacuated prior to the storm’s arrival and that it did not suffer any damage.

“Enterprise personnel arrived back at the facility on September 1 and confirmed the integrity of all systems and that no environmental discharges occurred from our facility,” the company said in a statement.

Aerial photos also showed significant flooding to the massive Phillips 66 Alliance Refinery in Belle Chasse, Louisiana. In some sections of the refinery, a rainbow sheen was visible on the water leading toward the river.

In statements issued after the storm Monday and Tuesday, Phillips 66 said it was assessing conditions at its refinery, but gave no indication of any environmental hazards.

After the AP sent Phillips 66 photos Wednesday showing extensive flooding and what appeared to be petroleum in the water, the company confirmed it had “discovered a sheen of unknown origin in some flooded areas of Alliance Refinery.”

“At this time, the sheen appears to be secured and contained within refinery grounds,” Phillips 66 spokesman Bernardo Fallas said Wednesday evening. “Clean-up crews are on site. The incident was reported to the appropriate regulatory agencies upon discovery.”

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