Coast Guard to try burning oil slick off Louisiana coast
Wednesday, April 28 2010 @ 03:14 PM EDT
Contributed by: jkr
(CNN) -- The U.S. Coast Guard will attempt to burn off portions of an oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico on Wednesday, a U.S. Coast Guard official said, as the pool of crude began to encroach on sensitive ecological areas in the Mississippi River Delta.
The option was one of several that Coast Guard officials were considering as the slick moved to within 20 miles of the Louisiana coastline.
Marine life has been spotted in the area. Over the weekend, a plane from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service sighted five small whales nearby.
Coast Guard Petty Officer Steve Leeman said the burn operation likely will begin between 11 a.m. and noon CT (noon and 1 p.m. ET). There are still many variables to be worked out, he said, including finding oil in the slick that will burn, gathering the oil into an enclosed area with booms and safety issues.
Officials said the oil spill has the potential to become one of the worst in U.S. history. Oil is leaking at a rate of about 42,000 gallons a day from the well, some 50 miles off Louisiana.
A drilling rig, the Deepwater Horizon, exploded and sank at the site last week. Eleven workers are still missing after the explosion, and a search for them was suspended Friday.