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Shell oil leak. May 14, 2016.
Photo: Jonathan Henderson, Vanishing Earth
This morning, Vanishing Earth captured footage of Shell’s oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico. The crude oil leak reportedly occurred Thursday afternoon at a Shell subsea well-head flow line, in federal waters approximately 90 miles south of Timbalier Island. According to the United States Coast Guard, Shell shut down four of the wells feeding into an underwater pipeline that feeds into its Brutus platform, but not until an estimated 90,000 gallons free flowed into the Gulf of Mexico waters. It is not uncommon for discharge amounts to be willfully and grossly underestimated by the responsible party. There was no visible sign today of any oil at the location of the Brutus platform, but miles of thick brown crude and rainbow sheen could be seen closer to the actual wells approximately 30 miles away along with a handful of response vessels.
Shell oil leak. May 14, 2016. Photo: Jonathan Henderson, Vanishing Earth
On Friday, the federal Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, which regulates the offshore oilindustry, said the oil sheen was 2 miles by 13 miles. Today’s sheen was at least the same size, though wind and wave activity presumably played a role in spreading the slick further to the north and west. Stay tuned for more photos and video and be sure to check our Facebook page for updates.
[Thank you to Greenpeace for making today’s flight possible.]
Jonathan Henderson is the Founding President of Vanishing Earth.