A leak from an undersea pipeline network operated by Royal Dutch Shell spilled nearly 90,000 gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico last week. The leak occurred about 90 miles off the Louisiana coast in the Glider Field near the company's Brutus Tension-Leg Platform.
The US Coast Guard (USCG) and Shell have recovered over 76,600 gallons of oily-water mixture, the company said. No coastal impacts are expected and there's been no reports of injury to wildlife. Gulf fisheries remain open.
"The Coast Guard and Shell jointly agreed that using on-water recovery vessels and skimming is the safest and most effective oil recovery option at this time," the USCG said in a statement Sunday.
The federal Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) is leading an investigation to determine the cause of the spill.
The USCG said two 210-foot and two 95-foot vessels were conducting skimming operations. Shell and the Coast Guard have mobilized 130 personnel for the clean-up effort.
While far less severe than the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster that killed 11 workers and spilled 134 million gallons of oil before being capped after three months, Shell's leak has renewed criticism of offshore oil and gas drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.
According to industry estimates, the Gulf accounts for 17 percent of US crude oil production and supports up to a quarter of a million jobs.
The spill occurred amidst a worldwide series of protests against fossil fuel interests, which organizers dubbed "Break Free from Fossil Fuels." In Washington state, 52 protestors were arrested on Sunday for occupying railroad tracks leading to a pair of oil refineries. And, in Albany, New York, 1,500 people protested against trains carrying crude oil into the Port of Albany. During the previous two weeks of protests, activists shut down coal operations in Germany, the United Kingdom, and Australia. Nigeria, Brazil, and the Philippines also saw anti-fossil fuel protests.
Rallying in Washington DC on Sunday, protestors, including Anne Rolfes, founding director of Louisiana Bucket Brigade, called on President Barack Obama to halt offshore oil drilling in the Arctic, the Atlantic Ocean, and the Gulf of Mexico.
"Louisiana has been dominated by Big Oil for almost a century, and over that time the industry has clearly demonstrated that making money is its priority," she said. "I am here to help our country shift away from oil and fossil fuels and the industries' bankrupt values. It's time to value people and our planet."
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Photos by Derick E. Hingle/Greenpeace