Contractor Cuts LA Pipeline, Leaks Oil

Wednesday, September 7, 2016 @ 01:09 PM gHale


A 5,250-gallon spill of crude oil discovered Monday in Bay Long, LA, part of Barataria Bay, was the result of a contractor working on a project aimed at restoring the effects of the BP oil spill, federal officials said.

The Coast Guard in New Orleans received a report Monday about the leak from a pipeline owned by Harvest Pipeline Company.

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An excavating marsh buggy operated by Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Co. accidentally cut through a pipeline, releasing the oil, while rebuilding Chenier Ronquille Island on the edge of Bay Long, part of the southern edge of Barataria Bay.

The pipeline is owned by Harvest Pipeline Co., an affiliate of Houston-based Hilcorp Energy.

The $36 million barrier island reconstruction project involved in Monday’s accident is funded by part of the $1 billion that BP made available for early Natural Resource Damage Assessment projects a year after the Deepwater Horizon oil rig caught fire and sank in April 2010, releasing millions of barrels of oil into the Gulf.

The project is being overseen by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, one of six federal agencies named as trustees in the response to the spill. The Chenier Ronquille project was originally authorized in 2010 as part of the federal-state Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection and Restoration Act project, and is and part of a federal-state plan to rebuild all the barrier islands at the southern end of Barataria Bay. The work includes repairing breaches in the shoreline, reconstruction of dunes and marsh creation.

The environmental assessment prepared for the original CWPPRA project warns that oil and gas pipelines are found throughout the project area.

“Dredging and associated activities can affect pipelines if the dredging crosses an active pipeline,” the assessment said. “Multiple surveys to identify potential areas of pipelines, correspondence with pipeline owners and landowner searches are conducted so this can be avoided by selecting an access route with the least potential to cross pipelines. The access channel for the back dike (primary dike)  was carefully selected in this manner. Pipelines lie on either side and inspectors and contractors would take care to observe safety buffer zones around the located pipelines as well as any crossings.”

An oil spill response organization, ECM Maritime Services, has been contracted to manage cleanup.

About 3,000 feet of hard boom have been deployed, and sorbent material and skimmers are collecting the oil. The Coast Guard and Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries are also helping supervise the response.