12 Years Later, Feds Start Investigating Leaking Gulf Oil Platform

"Twelve years after Hurricane Ivan destroyed a Taylor Energy Co. platform in the Gulf of Mexico, the federal government has finally started investigating how oil and gas that is still leaking from its wells damages natural resources. The flow of oil, 'if left unchecked, could continue for 100 years or more,' says the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, the Interior Department agency that oversees gulf drilling.

Although the storm waylaid Taylor Energy's MC-20 Saratoga platform on Sept. 15, 2004, it was not until late 2016 that the government began its inquiry, and not until Thursday (July 27) that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration confirmed the investigation. 'NOAA is a trustee for the Taylor Energy Incident in Louisiana, and we are in the early stages of a Natural Resource Damage Assessment process,' Keeley Belva, a spokeswoman for the oceanic agency, said in response to new questions about the well site.

The agency had not announced the investigation because it's still in what's called a 'pre-assessment' phase, when researchers try to identify natural resources at risk, Belva said. Formal public notice, usually through the Federal Register, will occur when trustees begin work on a final damage assessment and restoration plan. Taylor Energy officials, however, were notified on June 23, 2016, 'about the opportunity to initiate participation' in the initial assessment, Belva said."

Mark Schleifstein reports for the New Orleans Times-Picayune July 28, 2017.

Source: New Orleans Times-Picayune, 07/31/2017