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Oil spewing from well near Louisiana marsh

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« on: July 27, 2010, 03:59:28 pm »

Oil spewing from well near Louisiana marsh

Boom placed around 20-foot-high plume; tugboat hit well, officials say

Smoke and mist from a well that was hit by a tugboat floats over a marsh area in Louisiana on Tuesday.

NBC, and news services
updated 1 hour 15 minutes ago

Adding insult to the Gulf's injury, an oil platform hit by a tugboat is now spewing oil and natural gas near a Louisiana marsh area, officials said Tuesday.

The oil and gas is shooting up 20 feet into the air, the office of Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser said.

Crews don't expect to be able to cap the well before 6 p.m. ET, Coast Guard Rear Adm. Paul Zukunft told reporters.

"We cannot catch a break," Deano Bonano, Jefferson Parish emergency management director, said in a note to parish officials.

Coast Guard 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, which was no longer in operation when it was hit. The extent of the damage beyond that was unclear.

Some 6,000 feet of boom were placed around the site, Thad Allen, the national incident commander for the nearby BP spill, told reporters.

The tugboat was pushing a barge when the collision happened, he added.

U.S. Coast Guard
The plume from the new Gulf spill is seen Tuesday.

The well is in inland waterways on the border of Plaquemines and Jefferson parishes, about 65 miles south of New Orleans; it's marsh area not accessible by road.

Jefferson Parish Councilman Chris Roberts was quoted as saying by WWL-TV in New Orleans that "there is a pretty good amount of oil flowing there." He did not have a more specific estimate.

Jefferson Parish officials said the tugboat hit the well before dawn. The tugboat captain immediately notified officials, and another boat later called in the leak.

Allen said the well is owned by the state of Louisiana.

The leak is north of Barataria Bay, a sensitive coastal estuary where crews have been fighting waves of oil from the BP spill.

NBC News producer Mary Murray contributed to this report.
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