A major oil spill off the coast of Louisiana has poured more than a million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, alarming local authorities and wildlife conservationists.
As the Washington Post reports, officials traced the spill back to near a pipeline operated by oil company Main Pass Oil Gathering, but it's still unclear if it was the source of the ongoing spill.
While the spill is dwarfed by previous spills, like the Deepwater Horizon crisis that saw 130 million gallons of crude pouring into the Gulf in 2010, it's nonetheless a grim environmental catastrophe that could have devastating effects on the local environment.
"Ocean wildlife will almost certainly pay a terrible price for this huge pipeline spill, which is less an accident than an entirely predictable consequence of offshore oil operations," said Kristen Monsell, senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity, in a statement.
The Coast Guard is now using remotely operated underwater vehicles to inspect the pipeline and find a source. Main Pass Oil has already turned off its pipeline, given its proximity and that it's suspected to be the source of the spill.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, there have been at least 44 oil spills of more than 420,000 gallons of spilled oil in US waters since 1969. The largest known spill in US history was the Deepwater Horizon disaster, which released just under a third of that amount in April 2010.
So while this latest spill is far from the largest, it's still significant, and the damage it'll likely do to the local environment will be considerable.
"From dolphins to birds to rare whales, Gulf animals are under siege yet again from a spill-prone industry that puts profit ahead of everything," Monsell added.
More on oil spills: Oil Companies Are Pumping Worthless Oil Back Underground
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