CHARENTON — The U.S. Coast Guard is estimating about 12,500 gallons of oil spilled in and around Bayou Teche Monday, the long-term effects of which remain unclear.
Lt. J.G. Lisa Siebert said in a prepared statement released Tuesday afternoon 54 responders, six barges, six jon boats, three marco skimmers and six drum skimmers are overseeing the cleanup effort they were initially alerted to Monday.
According to the statement, watchstanders with Coast Guard Marine Safety Unit in Morgan City received a call at around 6 p.m. from PSC Industrial Outsourcing, which is located in Charenton near the St. Mary Surgar Co-op. The company reported an unknown amount of crude oil spilled into the Bayou Teche, saying a tank was being filled with crude oil when the incident occurred.
“We’re estimating that 12,558 gallons were spilled,” Sieber said Tuesday afternoon. “Let me be clear, not all of that went into the Bayou Teche.”
Siebert said some of the oil landed in nearby vegetation next to the Bayou Teche, although the Coast Guard could not yet estimate how much entered the nationally recognized waterway. Cleanup is expected to last at least a week, with the Bayou Teche “definitely” closed off to traffic during that time between Jeanerette and Charenton.
“Right now, we’re not seeing any major effects on the wildlife and vegetation, but I can’t tell you what the future holds,” Siebert said.
A shelter advisory was put out for residents near the area to stay in their homes Monday night and was lifted Tuesday morning.
St. Mary Parish Councilman Craig Mathews represents the Sorrel district, and said local government involvement to fix the spill has been minimal. Mathews actually learned about it on Facebook, and said no authorities or even residents have called him about the damage.
“No one’s called me directly,” Mathews said. “Residents know who I am. They may be calling the courthouse, but I would think that if a natural disaster or safety hazard occurs, usually there’s some type of coordinated reaction from local government to try and mitigate damage or cooperate with the proper authorities. If those steps were taken you can be sure I would be involved.”
The cause of the incident is under investigation. Siebert said the long-term effects the spill could have on the local environment is not clear.
“Right now there hasn’t been any major effects,” she said. “No one’s reporting damage to vegetation or wildlife, but I can’t tell you what the future looks like.”
Projected storms that are slated to come into the area later this week also do not bode well for the cleanup effort, Siebert said.