By Kanishka Singh, Andrea Shalal and Valerie Volcovici
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A private dive team will try to locate the source of a suspected oil spill spotted in the Bay Marchand area of the Gulf of Mexico on Sunday, after Hurricane Ida wreaked havoc in the region this week, the U.S. Coast Guard said on Saturday.
U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration satellite images, first reported by the Associated Press on Wednesday, showed a miles-long brownish-black slick spreading in coastal waters about two miles off Port Fourchon, Louisiana, an oil and gas hub.
The images appeared to show the slick drifting more than a dozen miles (19 kilometers) eastward along the Gulf coast, the AP said.
Ida, one of the most powerful hurricanes ever to strike the U.S. Gulf Coast, hit Louisiana about a week ago before moving northeast and causing intense flooding that killed dozens https://www.reuters.com/world/us/new-york-city-mayor-declares-state-emergency-after-record-breaking-rain-2021-09-02 in New York and other northeastern states.
A Coast Guard spokesman said Talos Energy had hired Clean Gulf Associates to respond to the suspected spill and contracted the private dive team to locate the source of the slick.
The AP quoted the energy company as saying it believes it is not responsible for the oil in the water.
Members of the Coast Guard Marine Safety Unit's prevention department and the Gulf Strike Team were monitoring reports and NOAA satellite imagery to determine the scope of the discharge, the spokesman said.
Once the source had been identified, the Coast Guard and partnering agencies would work on a recovery and source control plan, he added.
He said Clean Gulf Associates has put skimmers and a containment boom in the area to mitigate any further environmental impact.
The Bay Marchand spill was one of several reported environmental hazards that authorities were responding to in Louisiana and the Gulf following hurricane Ida.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said on Thursday it had dispatched a surveillance aircraft https://www.reuters.com/world/us/us-epa-responds-report-oil-spill-after-ida-by-activating-special-aircraft-2021-09-03 to an area in Louisiana hard hit by Ida that includes a refinery where an apparent oil spill was reported.
The aircraft dispatched from Texas was going to gather data on a Phillips 66 refinery and other priority sites.
Phillips 66 had said flooding had occurred at its Alliance Refinery and a sheen of unknown origin in some flooded areas of the refinery had been discovered.
U.S. Gulf Coast energy companies on Saturday got a boost from the reopening https://www.reuters.com/business/energy/us-offshore-oil-recovery-begins-with-ports-refineries-restarting-2021-09-04 of ports and restart of oil refineries shut by Ida, but damage to key facilities still crimped oil production.
(Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru and Andrea Shalal and Valerie Volcovici in Washington; Editing by Alistair Bell and William Mallard)