Coast Guard investigates slick off Gulf coast

By Matthew Bigg
Reuters, October 23, 2010

The U.S. Coast Guard is investigating a large brown slick floating near the mouth of the Mississippi river and said on Saturday it could be weathered oil from the BP spill or just algae bloom.

A Coast Guard vessel went out on Saturday to the orange-brown substance, which stands around 2-3 miles offshore at Tiger Pass, northwest of Venice, Louisiana, according to spokesman Jeff Hall.

“Our number one concern is it coming ashore and getting into sensitive areas,” Hall said, adding that an initial visual inspection suggested the slick, about 2.5 miles long and 200-300 yards (meters) long, was algae.

“If it does turn out to be a patch of oil we will clean it up,” he said in an interview, adding he expects results from the tests on Tuesday.

Millions of gallons of oil poured into the Gulf of Mexico in the world’s worst offshore oil spill that began in April when a BP rig exploded and sank off the coast of Louisiana. The well was capped in July.

The oil hurt wildlife and marine life and damaged the wetlands that make up a large part of Louisiana’s coastline. It also harmed the coasts of Mississippi, Alabama and Florida as well as crippling local economies.

The U.S. government contends much of the oil has now dissipated but some scientists and local fishermen dispute this.

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