(NEW ORLEANS) — The United States Coast Guard says it is investigating a report of an inactive wellhead spewing oily water into marshland about 50 miles south of New Orleans.
According to the Coast Guard the accident occurred Tuesday around 8 p.m. when a 42-foot crew boat named Sea Raider came into contact with the wellhead nine miles south of Port Sulphur, La., and compromised the dormant geyser. The wellhead is owned by Swift Energy and has been inactive since December 2007.
The Coast Guard tells ABC News Swift Energy has contracted a cleanup company to help remove the substance flowing into the marshland. Once the area is clear, the Coast Guard will move in to assess exactly what it is flowing out of the well and how much of it is spewing out.
Several calls to Swift Energy have not been returned.
When reached for comment, Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser said he is sending his team out to the area. “We hope to have a better idea of what is going on in a few hours,” he added.
This incident happens almost three years after a blast from an oil rig owned by oil giant BP killed 11 people and sent millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico — making it the worst environmental disaster in United States history.
A federal trial to identify the cause of the well blowout and decide how much monetary damage BP and others might have to pay is underway in New Orleans. Rig owner Transocean Ltd. and cement contractor Halliburton also are defendants at the trial, which opened Monday.
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Aria Hangyu Chen, Special to CNN
Susanna Capelouto, CNN
Debra Goldschmidt, CNN
Jacqueline Howard, CNN