More Oil Washes Ashore on Louisiana Coast, Possible Oil Slick Spotted From Plane

Oh no, not again. Some disheartening news has come in from Grand Isle on the Louisiana Gulf Coast, where "reddish brown crude" and an "oily sheen"were seen washing ashore over the weekend. This was not a welcome sight, especially with the anniversary of the BP oil spill fast approaching.

Grand Isle Mayor David Camardelle confirmed reports from tourists and residents that the oil washed up on a handful of beaches near Grand Isle's main beach area this weekend. The Coast Guard is on the scene, mobilizing clean-up crews and working to determine the cause of the situation. An initial prediction is that the oil is coming from a leaky drilling rig near Grand Isle, with oil spread over a five-mile area. But by other accounts, the situation could be much worse. Members of the Louisiana Bayoukeepers conducted a flyover of the area on Saturday, in response to reports over the past few weeks of dead dolphins and a strong petroleum odor off the Louisiana coast. This is what the team found:

We flew from New Orleans, south along the Mississippi River and across the east side of Barataria Bay toward the Gulf of Mexico.   At first we didn't see anything out of the ordinary, brown heavily silted waters coming from the muddy Mississippi River dumping into the Gulf.  Typical spring high river water.  We flew a little to the east and found more of the same.  We turned to the southwest, heading toward the reported oil sighting south of Grand Isle, LA.  Almost immediately we began seeing, what appeared to be, large areas of oil just below the surface along with streaks of multicolored "sheen" on the surface.   The smell of petroleum was thick in the air.  We flew southwest, to approximately 40 miles south of Grand Isle and followed the "plumes" and "sheen" north all the way in to Grand Terre Island and Grand Isle.  The "sheen" appeared to be flowing into Barataria Bay through Four Bayou Pass and Grand Isle Pass.

We saw only a few birds, one large, dead Red Fish and only three dolphins during the entire fly over....It was surreal....The next day, Sunday, March 20, 2011, we left Lafitte/Barataria in the Bayoukeeper Patrol Vessel to collect samples.  The wind was blowing from the south and we began smelling petroleum around Wilkinson Canal.  It could have been coming from Bay Jimmy, as clean up from the BP spill is ongoing in this area.  We continued south of Bay Jimmy into Barataria Bay.  The petroleum smell became stronger and we began to see foam and what appeared to be small globs of weathered oil/dispersant.  We grabbed samples of the water and globs.

Louisiana Bayoukeepers' Mike Roberts reiterated to Robby Kistner of NRDC that the group saw what "looked like a huge amount of oil" in the waters off Louisiana. "They could smell it from the airplane and I could smell it from the boat. This wasn't just Mississippi River mud," he said.

AlterNet / By Lauren Kelley

Posted at March 22, 2011, 5:03am

Sign Up!
Get AlterNet's Daily Newsletter in Your Inbox
+ sign up for additional lists
Select additional lists by selecting the checkboxes below before clicking Subscribe:
Election 2018
Today's Top Stories