NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Dozens of boats and more than 100 workers are trying to clean up and contain an oil spill in Plaquemines Parish. We know nearly 5,000 gallons of oil and water has been collected, but there’s still plenty more work to be done.
“It’s a big spill,” said Plaquemines Parish Director of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness Patrick Harvey. “Luckily, they were able to get on top of it rather quickly.”
Already, personnel recovered more than 4,800 gallons of oil and water.
"Hopefully, the impact is not as bad as it was originally thought to be and, hopefully, they can get it cleaned up in a short period of time," said Harvey.
The Coast Guard is still trying to figure out what caused the spill, first spotted Sunday. Petty officers say an oil well head was leaking a mix of crude oil, gas and water. It’s not leaking anymore, but it’s not fixed. A Coast Guard spokesperson says they’re pumping a salt water solution into the well to keep it from leaking until repairs are made.
“It had quite a bit of oil out there, more sheen than anything else,” said environmental consultant P.J. Hahn.
Hahn says he saw the leak in Rattlesnake Bayou on Wednesday and snapped photos. He applauds the efforts of those who responded and says Mother Nature is helping, too, taking out the tide and oil along with it.
“It’s so much harder to clean the marsh than if it just went out into the open. It’s easier to clean up out in the open,” Hahn said. “Once it gets in the marsh, it destroys it quickly. It’s almost impossible to get it out of the marsh without causing more damage.”
Hahn says, it's unfortunate, but on a working coast like the Gulf of Mexico, spills are inevitable.
"It's always a concern. I think we need to look at every oil spill and figure out lessons learned and how can we can prevent things like this. Overall, it's going to happen and I think, as long as you can contain it without it getting out causing too much damage to the environment, it's something we have to live with," explained Hahn.
Bird cannons are on hand to help protect wildlife in the area. They’re boats with small cannons that set off explosives to keep birds away.