NEW ORLEANS – The Coast Guard has officially taken over the containment and cleanup of an offshore oil rig that has been pumping oil into the Gulf of Mexico for more than decade.
The MC20 platform, located 11 miles south of the mouth of the Mississippi River, was severely damaged by an underwater mudslide triggered by Hurricane Ivan in 2004.
Taylor Energy, the New Orleans-based company that owns the platform, has not stopped the oil leak in the past 14 years, so the federal government has taken over.
The Coast Guard began the planning phase of an eventual capping of the leaking well and subsequent cleanup efforts in November, when federal control began.
“While the safety of response personnel is paramount, we don’t want to delay response activities,” Federal On-Scene Coordinator for the MC20 response U.S. Coast Guard Capt. Kristi Luttrell said. “We plan to leverage every weather window available from now until the system is installed and collecting oil.”
The Taylor spill has consistently leaked between 10,000 and 30,000 gallons of oil each day since September 2004, according to court filings, far outpacing the spill caused by the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe.
The cumulative oil spilled makes the Taylor spill the largest in history, according to reports.
The ongoing environmental impact of the tremendous amount of oil coursing into the Gulf has not yet begun to be calculated.
“We are committed to public safety and preserving the Gulf marine environment,” Luttrell said. “As we move swiftly to develop and install the containment system, we will continue working with our federal, state, and local partners to ensure a permanent solution is in place.”