Offshore Drilling, Onshore Spilling

In case anyone doubts there is any connection between offshore oil and gas drilling, and risks of spills from onshore oil facilities, the helpful officials at BOEMRE have just made that connection crystal clear. Yesterday, BOEMRE awarded the 9th deepwater drilling permit since the BP / Deepwater Horizon spill to Murphy Oil Corporation to resume work on a well in the Green Canyon area of the Gulf of Mexico.

Over one million gallons of oil spilled from a Murphy Oil storage tank damaged by Hurricane Katrina. Photo source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

If the name sounds familiar, it should: in 2005 a Murphy oil storage tank damaged by hurricane Katrina spilled one million gallons of crude oil into a residential neighborhood in Chalmette, Louisiana; the biggest single spill of the 9 million gallons estimated by the US Coast Guard that spilled from storm-damaged facilities onshore and offshore. Some of this oil came from Gulf production; some may have been imported. But it’s clear that offshore producers need to have onshore facilities, and these facilities continue to be just as vulnerable to storm damage now as they were six years ago. And hurricanes are just a fact of life along the Gulf and Atlantic coasts.

Crude oil from failed Murphy Oil storage tank impacted 1,700 homes on Chalmette and Meraux, Louisiana. Photo source: Wikimedia
Folks in Virginia might want to think about that as their politicians lead the charge to expand offshore drilling in US waters.
3 replies
  1. John says:

    Thanks for the comment. We got that photo from this EPA gallery of Katrina-related images – – so we assumed it was the Murphy refinery complex in Meraux. It's clearly flooded, and appears to be leaking oil. But looking at Google Maps it doesn't appear to match the facilities in Meraux or in Superior. Hmmm…

  2. John says:

    Here's a comment on the Murphy Oil spill in Chalmette, emailed to me and posted here with the author's permission:

    St. Bernard Parish, Louisiana.

    Former St Mark's Catholic Church and School on Missouri Street in Chalmette, La, located within close proximity to the Murphy Oil Meraux refinery tank farm and treatment ponds. Murphy Oil refinery had a tank rupture in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and the levee failures. This former school was in one of the more visibly effected areas of the 1 million gallon crude oil spill from Murphy Oil. Test results in the links below from August 2010 show the site's ground water and soil contamination analytical data.

    Now, the St. Bernard Parish School board has plans for the new LaCoste Elementary school on this site and the school board plans to use insurance proceeds to pay for cleanup.

    —levels exceeded RECAP screening standards for non industrial land use for TPH DRO TPH ORO and three PAH compounds, Benzoanthracene, benzobfluoranthene, and benzopyrene

    –RECAP screening standard protective for groundwater was exceeded for the PAH compound 2-methylnaphthalene

    Suzanne Kneale
    Concerned Citizens Around Murphy

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