PLAQUEMINES PARRISH, La. – A wellhead hit by a tug boat is gushing oil near a Louisiana marsh area, Jefferson Parish officials reported Tuesday. Billy Nungesser, Plaquemines Parish President, said that the oil is shooting up 20 feet into the air.
Officials said that the tug boat, called Pere Ana C., hit the well before dawn and that the tug boat captain immediately notified officials. Another boat later called in the leak.
“We cannot catch a break,” Deano Bonano, Jefferson Parish emergency management director, said in a note to parish officials.
Thad Allen, retired US Coast Guard Admiral Coast Guard and National Incident Commander for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, told reporters that some 6000 ft of boom have been placed around the site.
The well is in inland waterways on the border of Plaquemines and Jefferson parishes, about 65 miles south of New Orleans. It’s marsh area is not accessible by road.
The leak is north of Barataria Bay, a sensitive coastal estuary where crews have been fighting waves of oil from the BP spill.
Jefferson Parish Councilman Chris Roberts was quoted as saying by WWL-TV in New Orleans that “there is a pretty good amount of oil flowing there.” He did not have a more specific estimate.
Jefferson Parish officials said emergency crews were at the site assessing how to deal with the spill.
Officials fear the well is also leaking natural gas since boats reported seeing a gas cloud near the wellhead.
Coast Guard Rear Adm. Paul Zukunft told reporters that crews don’t expect to be able to cap the well before 6 p.m. ET.