Coast Guard: New Gulf Sheen Likely Not an Oil Spill

Marshes off Venice, LA (May 2010)

The National Wildlife Federation is tracking reports of a substance fouling the surface of the Gulf of Mexico. So far, Coast Guard tests seem to indicate it’s not a new oil spill, but an area of sediment with traces of oil that’s been stirred to the surface:

Analyzed samples from the suspected sheen contained trace amounts of petroleum hydrocarbons, oil and grease, the Coast Guard said. The dark substance is believed to be the result of an increase in sediment that was agitated by dredging operations in the Mississippi River.

Additionally, the Coast Guard said it received notifications of possible pollution in coastal areas along the Gulf of Mexico.

“Samples have been taken from the shoreline impacts for testing but the oily substance is not, at this time, suspected to be residual oil from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill,” the Coast Guard said.

Any shoreline impacts are alarming, but it’s a positive sign that the sheen is mostly sediment. We’ll continue to monitor the situation, keeping a close watch on any wildlife impacts, and provide updates here at Wildlife Promise.

What’s more alarming is that nearly one year after the Deepwater Horizon explosion and with deep sea drilling permits once again being handed out, Congress still hasn’t acted to restore coastal Louisiana wetlands. Please take a moment to ask your members of Congress to pass legislation that will direct BP oil disaster fines toward Gulf Coast restoration.