Groups debate severity of 14-year-old oil leak off Louisiana’s coast

Groups debate severity of 14-year-old oil leak off Louisiana’s coast

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - A 14-year-long oil spill off Louisiana’s coast could become one of the worst in history, and while some are comparing it to the 2010 BP disaster, others say it’s being blown out of proportion

A Taylor Energy platform sank in a mudslide triggered by Hurricane Ivan in 2004. Taylor notified the feds and spent millions trying to remove any accessible facilities and plug the wells they could reach. But they didn’t get them all. Still, the company argues there is no evidence to prove the wells are leaking.

“There’s been a steady leak, and the government and Taylor have been unable to contain it," said Raleigh Hoke with the Gulf Restoration Network. "This new report that came out last month dramatically raises that estimate between 10,000 to 30,000 gallons of oil leaking every single day as opposed to 1,600 gallons a year.”

The interior department and Taylor Energy, which is now virtually defunct, are locked in a legal fight over the spill.

“The government needs to make sure that Taylor is actually held accountable for this both the damage to the environment but also figuring out a way to stop this. Like, that’s been going on for 14 years now,” Hoke said.

“The government is sitting on Taylor’s money,” said Eric Smith with the Tulane Energy Institute. “The government has to make the decision what they want to do - not Taylor.”

Smith said Taylor fixed what it could without risking making things worse, which he says was a real threat.

“The government didn’t have a solution other than to wait and see, which is what’s been happening for 14 years,” Smith said.

Smith believes critics may be blowing the spill out of proportion since the current administration wants to open up other areas in the Gulf to drilling.

“It’s not Armageddon,” Smith said. "It’s a serious problem. I wouldn’t make light of it the seriousness, but we have hundreds of seeps that are naturally occurring seeps in the gulf of Mexico that leak oil all the time."

But Hoke says he’s seen photos to the contrary.

“We see miles-long oil slicks coming off the Taylor site,” he said.

In the BP spill, more than 200 million gallons of oil leaked into the Gulf of Mexico over nearly 90 days.

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