Experts Say Gulf Oil Spill Could Last 100 Years Or More

May 20, 2015 | J. Price McNamara
Experts Say Gulf Oil Spill Could Last 100 Years Or More

According to recent news reports, residents along the gulf are up in arms about a decade-old oil leak from an offshore platform that toppled during a hurricane.  Experts have confirmed that the leak could continue spilling crude oil pollution into the Gulf of Mexico for a century or more.   They further confirmed that if left unchecked, the problem could continue to create the chronic oil slicks that often stretch for miles off the coast of Louisiana.

Authorities suspect that oil is still leaking from at least one of 25 wells that remain buried under mounds of sediment.   In 2004, Hurricane Ivan created the initial damage to the oil wells by causing an underwater mudslide.  However, despite over ten years since the original incident, a recent AP investigation revealed that the remaining leak is far worse than was publicly reported prompting speculation that parties are trying to cover up the slow-motion spill.

So who is responsible for the continuing damage from the oil wells?  News agencies have discovered that Taylor Energy Company owns the platform and a cluster of oil wells.  The energy company has played down the extent and environmental impact of the leak since it happened.  Taylor Energy further contends that nothing can be done to completely eliminate the oil slicks on the Louisiana coastline.

In an attempt to buffer itself from responsibility, Taylor had hoped to broker a deal with the government to resolve its financial obligations for the oil leak and the subsequent damage.  However, gulf coast residents are happy to see that authorities have denied Taylor’s request and ordered additional clean up and prevention work by the company.

Officials have reportedly said that more that can still be done by Taylor to control and contain the oil that is still discharging heavily from the site.

In response to government direction, Taylor hired a contractor to drill new wells to intercept and plug nine wells that were reportedly still capable of leaking oil.  But a company official has asserted that experts warn that there are significant risks of additional damage if new drilling continues.

In an early 2015 court filing, Taylor claimed that oil from their wells was leaking at a rate of less than 4 gallons per day.  Additionally, the U.S.  Coast Guard has recently provided a new estimate that claims the oil leak is about 20 times greater than Taylor is reporting.

According to ecological studies, sheens from the oil leak are sometimes as large as 1.5 miles wide and 14 miles long.  Moreover, since last year, the estimated daily volume of oil discharged from the Taylor wells has ranged from approximately 42 gallons to 2,329 gallons, with more than 84 gallons a day on average.

Many watch dog groups say that the leak's extent is far greater than Taylor’s conservative estimates.  Many opponents claim that this case illustrates how hurricanes and oil rigs don't mix.  Local politicians are vowing to keep doing everything they can to make sure the Interior Department holds Taylor accountable for the damage from its wells.

In 2008, Taylor was directed to set aside millions to pay for leak-related work as part of a confidential clean-up agreement with the Interior Department.  The company claims it has spent millions already in its efforts to contain and halt the damages from the leak.  However, Taylor refuses to publicly disclose how much money is left in required the trust.

Despite Taylor’s formal request to be excused from any further cleanup costs, politicians and environmental groups have vowed to continue their efforts.  Additionally, supporters for the Gulf Clean-up and protection efforts have called on federal officials to disclose technical data and other information about the oil leak.

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J. Price McNamara


Losing my own brother, then my father and sister after long, disabling illnesses just a few months apart drove a career change for me. Before that experience, I never truly understood the place you’re in. I never understood the dramatic impact that receiving (or not receiving) the disability and life insurance benefits you paid for and counted on can have on your life especially when you need to focus on family and healing. What I experienced with my own family now drives the way I view my clients and my work, and I will never forget it!

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