USCG: Louisiana Oil Spill Cleanup Done, Origins Still Unknown

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June 14, 2011

BRETON SOUND, La. – A sheen is spotted from a Coast Guard HC-144 Ocean Sentry aircraft off the coast of Venice, La., June 9, 2011. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Stephen Lehmann.

HOUSTON (Dow Jones)–The U.S. Coast Guard said Monday the cleanup of a small oil spill near Venice, La., is complete, but federal investigators are still unsure where the plume came from.

A fisherman spotted and photographed a mile-long band of oily sheen last Wednesday on Breton Sound, a body of water separated from the open Gulf of Mexico by a series of slender barrier islands that form the Breton National Wildlife Refuge.

The Coast Guard set in motion a clean-up and containment operation that included more than 140 responders, 43 vessels and aerial surveillance equipment both manned and unmanned. Nearby shorelines, including those of the wildlife sanctuary, were swaddled in more than 15,000 feet of boom.

But the oil “rapidly weathered, broke down and disintegrated” before skimmers could collect it, the Coast Guard said. None ever reached shore.

Federal investigators, who continue to investigate the matter, have yet to determine the plumes’ origins.

The incident represents the second significant response to a Gulf of Mexico oil spill since BP PLC’s (BP, BP.LN) Macondo well blow-out last April, which was the worst offshore spill in U.S. history.

In March, federal and Louisiana officials investigated a spill that led to oil washing ashore along several stretches of Louisiana’s coastline. The oil was eventually tracked to a platform owned by Anglo-Suisse Offshore Partners LLC, which was being permanently shut-in when crude leaked out. The closely held Houston company had to pay for the spill’s cleanup.

-By Ryan Dezember, Dow Jones Newswires

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