NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - Local engineers and environmentalists are celebrating on word of the containment of a 14 year old oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico.
The technology to contain the Taylor Energy leak at the mouth of the river was developed in Belle Chasse.
For more than a decade oil leaked from a Taylor Energy platform just off the Louisiana coast, creating a sheen, which is now going away.
“Every time I fly over that site, 12 miles off Louisiana, you see a rainbow sheen,” said environmental activist Jonathan Henderson, who has done several flyovers.
The platform began leaking after it was toppled by Hurricane Ivan in 2004 pouring hundreds of gallons a day of oil in the gulf.
Now a local marine contractor, the Couvillon Group, has devised a solution to contain the plumes of oil, coming from beneath the structure. They built a huge rectangular bell nearly 40 ft by 40 ft that was fitted onto a portion of Taylor energy’s failed platform, 450 ft deep.
"We built the dome like a flat box, and that allowed the sediment to fall out before it came into our system," said company president Tim Couvillion.
Using a series of storage tanks, separators and a pipe system that brings the oil to a collection ship on the surface engineers have collected 30,000 gallons oil so far.
"The science is not voodoo magic, it's straightforward," said Couvillion.
Couvillion says it's now collecting 1300 gallons of oil a day, from the ruptured well.
South Louisiana has been involved in oil field innovations for nearly 100 years and have been involved in many innovations, this latest rapid response system only the latest.
“When we finished the second separator test, they said this was a bunch of Cajuns in Louisiana, taking care of their own problems,” said Couvillion.
Environmentalists are pleased with the solution but have some concerns.
“If a cat five comes through will that containment system be pulled or damaged, and who will pay for it,” said Henderson.
Couvillon engineers say the system at the ocean bottom won't be disturbed in tropical weather, and the collection ship can be moved off site, in advance of a storm.
Although divers helped place the oil collection structure at the bottom of the sea floor, unmanned submarines called R-O-V’s performed much of the work. They and a team of oil collectors will remain on the job until the well is ultimately capped.