On Tuesday, May 31, thanks to the gracious efforts of Jonathan Henderson of the Gulf Restoration Network and Josephine Billups, LABB Program Manager Anna Hrybyk was able to do some reconnaissance on the chemical contamination occurring in the flood waters of the Atchafalaya Basin.
Based on our map of oil and gas infrastructure in the path of flooding, I was able to locate the major vulnerable oil fields in the Atchafalaya Basin. I then used National Response Center reports to gain an understanding of where oil sheen had already been reported by citizens, oil companies, state agencies or watchdogs like us. With this information and the profound knowledge of our pilot who used to service the oil and gas industry in the region, we plotted a course.
We surveyed 12 sites from the air, including West Lake Verrett, Bayou Pastillion, Chicot Lake, Duck Lake, Morgan City, Garden City, Dog Lake, Four Isle Dome and Chauvin/Montegut.
Virtually every oil and gas field we spotted between I-10 and Morgan City was flooded, but we were only able to spot sheen emanating from three facilities. Those three were:
The West Lake Verrett facility (N295088, W911338) had a light sheen emanating from two areas and spreading approximately 100 feet into the surrounding marsh. There was no boom containing this material:
The Bayou Pastillion facility (N299727, W913134) had heavy sheen emanating from two different platforms. Sheen was contained in booms surrounding the facility infrastructure:
The Bayou Sorrell storage facility (N300990, W912243) had a light sheen emanating from the tank storage area.
We were on the lookout for flooded oil waste pits in the area. The Louisiana Department of Natural Resources has confirmed that there are 100 active oil waste pits in the flood zone and 4,000 abandoned pits.
The active oil waste pit yard in Morgan City shown above contains drilling mud and oil waste containing a wide variety of toxic chemicals.
Luckily the pits in this photo have been spared the floodwaters. Only through continued vigilance can we be sure that the beautiful waters and the public health of the Atchafalaya Basin are protected.
If you spot chemical contamination in Louisiana please report it!
- Call the National Response Center 1-800-424-8802
- Text 504-272-7645 or submit a report online to LABB’s Chemical Accidents Crisis Map at map.labucketbrigade.org.