Oil Spews From Louisiana Well Struck by Tow Boat

Oil and gas leaked Tuesday from a damaged well on a waterway north of a bay where officials have been fighting the spillfrom the BP disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.

20-foot oil leak shooting up in plaquemines parish.
20-foot oil leak shooting up in plaquemines parish.

The Coast Guard said the tow boat Pere Ana C. struck the wellhead near Mud Lake early Tuesday. The boat was moved to LaRose after the incident. No injuries were reported.

The Coast Guard did not know who owns the well or how much oil had leaked.

Chief Petty Officer John Edwards said a strip of oil 50 yards wide and a mile long was spotted on the water near the well. Jefferson Parish Councilman Chris Roberts said oil was spewing from the wellhead.

Lt. Brian Sattler said a helicopter was dispatched to survey the area, which is accessible only by boat.

Sattler said state and federal agencies were alerted and authorities were hiring someone to stop the leak.

Mud Lake is part of a network of bayous and lakes north of Barataria Bay, an ecologically sensitive coastal estuary where authorities have been fighting waves of oil from the Deepwater Horizon accident.

Roberts said he was confident the leak and spill could be taken care of soon.

"This likely can be contained today," he said in an e-mail.

He was worried, however, that the leak forced a halt to water traffic leading into Barataria Bay. That could hamper efforts to redeploy oil-fighting equipment that was moved inland ahead of last week's Tropical Storm Bonnie.

"This leaves us vulnerable until we can reopen traffic and get resources back out," Roberts said.