Coast Guard Report: “Unidentified substance” leaking from BP’s Deepwater Horizon

Originally published: December 18, 2012
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An "unidentified substance inconsistent with oil" is emitting from several areas of BP's Deepwater Horizon rig wreckage

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Dec, 18 2012 – NEW ORLEANS (MorichesDaily) — An “unidentified substance inconsistent with oil” is emitting from several areas of BP’s Deepwater Horizon rig wreckage, but no sources of leaking oil were identified.

The latest survey marks the fourth time since the Macondo well was permanently sealed in September 2010 that it has been visually inspected by remotely operated vehicles (ROV) at the sea floor and confirmed not to be leaking.

The four-day survey by remotely operated vehicles of the sea floor, triggered by repeated sightings of oil sheen on the surface at the well site 50 miles southeast of Venice, was conducted by contractors for BP and Transocean, the owner of the Deepwater Horizon drillship, under a plan approved by the Coast Guard.

“No conclusive evidence of hydrocarbons leaking was observed from any of the surveyed areas,” said the news release. “However, a white, cloudy substance appeared to be emanating from several places on the overturned rig, and samples of the substance were collected. BP will review the results of the investigation with the Coast Guard.”

“No apparent source of the surface sheen has been discovered by this effort,” said Coast Guard Capt. Duke Walker, Federal On-Scene Coordinator for Deepwater Horizon. “Next steps are being considered as we await the lab results of the surface and subsurface samples and more detailed analysis of the video shot during the mission.”

Out of an abundance of caution, the Macondo wellhead was also observed and was found to be secure. On September 19, 2010 the well was closed off and cemented.

The Coast Guard says that satellite surveillance will continue to monitor the sheen while future steps are being considered.

The Deepwater Horizon caught fire on April 20, 2010, and sank two days later, leading to the collapse of the riser pipe and the uncontrolled release of oil from the well. The well was capped on July 15, 2010, and permanently sealed with cement on Sept. 19. The well was later “plugged and abandoned.”

In August 2011, reports of an oil sheen at the surface near the wellhead resulted in BP conducting an underwater survey of the well and relief wells, which confirmed they were not leaking.

Video of the inspections will be made available soon, and will be posted on www.restorethegulf.gov, the federal web site for oil spill response operations.

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