Fears that Hurricane Isaac might have stirred up crude oil left over in the Gulf of Mexico after the Deepwater Horizon accident more than two years ago have been confirmed by BP after officials closed a 13-mile stretch of beach Tuesday due to tar balls and oil being reported.
According to the Associated Press, a BP spokesman said late Wednesday that the company was working with the Coast Guard, state officials and land managers to clean up oil on the Fourchon beach on the Louisiana coast and that clean-up crews would be there Thursday.
On Tuesday the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Secretary announced the emergency closure of a portion of coastal waters due the emergence of a large tar mat and concentrations of tar balls on beaches in the area. The LDWF banned all commercial fishing in these waters.
BP still has hundreds of workers operating on the Gulf Coast cleaning up oil that was leaked into the GOM from the Macondo prospect, where Deepwater Horizon was drilling.
The BP spokesman added that the storm had served a good purpose since it had made visible where the company can clean up.
Last week the Huffington Post reported that Garret Graves, chairman of Louisiana's Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, had warned up to one million barrels of oil is estimated to remain in the GOM because BP had failed to clean it all up.
In a statement sent to Rigzone on Thursday at noon (UK time) BP said:
"As anticipated prior to Hurricane Isaac making landfall, there are reports of residual Macondo oil along the shorelines near Fouchon Beach and Grand Isle. These are areas that were in active response prior to Isaac, so it was expected by the Gulf Coast Incident Management Team – which includes the United States Coast Guard, state representatives, other federal representatives, and BP – that these could be areas where highly weathered residual oil might be exposed.
"In accordance with the GCIMT's Severe Weather Contingency Plan, with the arrival of Hurricane Isaac operations were suspended across the response area. As areas are opened by the FOSC and appropriate safety assessments have been completed, we are redeploying crews to these areas to resume response operations.
"Under the direction of the Coast Guard and in accordance with the Gulf Coast Incident Management Team sampling protocols, we also anticipate testing this material to determine its origin.
"It is important to note, however, that there have been 90 reports of oil releases from other sources since the storm, and it is imperative that the parties responsible for that oil act in the same manner as BP and respond quickly in following Coast Guard directions."
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