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Day 1045: Aging Infrastructure + Stormy Weather =

2TheAdvocate.com | Louisiana often leads U.S. oil spill list (HT, NolaDishu)

Aging infrastructure and the volume of oil either produced or moved through Louisiana is part of the reason the state saw an average 1,500 reported oil spills a year between 1991 through 2004.  That’s about four reported oil spills a day, most of which go unnoticed by the public. 

Between 1991 and 2004, reported oil spills in Louisiana involved between 91,000 gallons and 701,000 gallons a year. In percentages, Louisiana accounted for between 5.8 percent and 53.6 percent of the reported oil spill volume in the United States, according to the U.S. Coast Guard and the Louisiana Oil Spill Coordinator“s Office.   Those are the spills reported in state waters and don’t account for reported spills in federal waters. In Louisiana, federal waters begin three miles from the coast.

… Another contributing factor to oil spills is coastal erosion.  In Louisiana, 22 square miles of the coastline are lost to erosion each year. As the land is lost, oil pipelines, old oil equipment and some old oil waste pits become exposed, he said.   Every time there’s a storm, we have leaks, [Roland Guidry, oil spill coordinator with the Louisiana Oil Spill Coordinator“s Office] said. 

… During hurricanes Katrina and Rita, numerous large and small oil spills occurred along the coast. A preliminary count from the two storms is 464, but [Karolien Debusschere, deputy coordinator with the Louisiana Oil Spill Coordinator“s Office] cautioned that those report numbers remain under review and could change. 

…  the spills ranged from tiny to 90,000 barrels.  It was worse (than expected.) We didn“t expect that kind of surge, Guidry said of Hurricane Katrina. The storm surge moved tanks with tens of thousands of barrels of oil and floated them away, he said.  That’s power. That’s power, he said. 

… Louisiana, they have their oil spill response down pretty well, [Dean Blanchard, habitat enhancement coordinator with the Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary Program in Thibodaux] said. They clean up efficiently and pretty quickly.  Blanchard said the office doesn’t get calls from the public concerned about oil spills. 

… But that could change, [Jill Mastrototaro, Sierra Club senior regional representative for the northern Gulf of Mexico] said.

3 comments… add one
  • Ryan July 8, 2008, 5:42 PM

    Vanakam Maitri – checking Komi’s website stats – I saw some traffic came from this website so I clicked on over…thanks for the link. Wow – didn’t know you had so many thoughts and opinions!

    Being oil field trash myself and having oil in my blood since I was a kid (family and friends worked here; I grew up in an oilfield community), I sometimes get defensive about people’s negative perception of us and tend to stand up for all the good things we do.

    I won’t lie, 20 years ago things were bad – protecting the environment was way below making money on the priority list. Because of these past transgressions, the oil field will always have this negative stigma attached to it. But things have dramatically improved.

    I work in production operations for 9 years, and every field I’ve ever worked in and every operator I’ve had as a partner, there has been one common theme – saftey and environment comes first. It is not just talk either. The amount of time, money, and effort that is spent on safety systems, redundency, and planning is enormous. Every time there is a spill, even if it is a teaspoon of oil, it is reported, studied, and lessons are taken from the incident and applied in the future to try and prevent this another similar incident. Every day starts with a meeting, and every day the #1 goal is to ensure that there are no spills and that no one gets hurt (making $ comes second).

    Personally, I’ve never seen a single spill bigger than 1 bbl – hurricanes included. However, I realize that there are some big ones if a hurricane comes thru (although there are safety systems in place to prevent spills if a wellhead gets knocked over ,etc). I certainly didn’t here about a 90,000 bbl spill…

    As bad as things are percieved here in the US from an environmental standpoint, if you go elsewhere in the world (Africa specifically) where national oil companies are running the show, things are 10 times worse.

    People can knock “Big Oil” all they want, but if they are well informed they can’t say that we don’t put the spill prevention first.

    Sorry for rambling on, I’m an engineer and not a writer.

    Cool blog – I’ll definately come back to check out another point of view (hey, I’m a born & raised conservative – but I am as fed up with the Republican party as the next guy)

    Poite varen…

  • Maitri July 8, 2008, 5:54 PM

    Ryan! Thanks for your long and thoughtful comment. As the article suggests, Louisiana is strong in reporting and cleanup and companies like yours and mine do put prevention first. But, we also can’t believe our own press all of the time and have to be ever vigilant.

    The MMS has officially reported spills that occurred during the hurricanes of 2005 – check it out. While these spills are by no means Exxon Valdez, they cannot be swept under the rug by politicians who say no spills occurred during the hurricanes and thus hurricanes are not a threat to allowing rampant drilling and pipeline activity in the Gulf. We have got to be very careful before we are put in the untenable position of not being able to maintain our standards any longer.

    Hope to see you back here and in real life soon!

  • Ryan July 9, 2008, 6:16 AM

    Just about every sentence uttered by the politicians and talking heads is littered with falsehoods when it comes to the oil industry. That will never change.

    And no matter what people say and do, there will be oil and gas drilling/development all ove the world over the next generation. From an environmental standpoint, I’d rather it be done in the US than anywhere else in the world b/c of the tighter reporting/regulatory requirements.

    Thanks for the info…and it has been along time (especially now that we moved to Covington! God, commuting sucks to no end!). Pass my well wishes on to D, and tell him I would love some of his Gumbo b/c I haven’t tried it yet.

    I’m praying to see Favre come back!

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