Fighting oil with fire

Crews set spill aflame with test burn Wednesday


A test burn started Wednesday is the latest attempt to stop oil from a rig accident from making its way to land.

Crews also are using containment booms, essentially a water-based fence, to keep the floating glob from the shoreline.

An unknown amount of boom — a lightweight vinyl-coated material that bobs above and below the water’s surface — was deployed Wednesday along Mississippi’s barrier islands, said Gulf Coast National Seashores Chief Ranger Clay Jordan.

Booms were placed at “particularly environmentally sensitive areas” at Cat, West Ship and Horn islands.

The deployment was expected to continue today, he said.

If the plan is successful, oil from the spill will float into the barrier and follow the current to a collection point where it will be collected by a skimmer, he said.

Jordan is confident the effort to protect the coastal shoreline should work. “It all depends on the quantity and the location of where the oil comes in,” he said.

Further southwest in the Gulf, a test burn started about 5 p.m. Wednesday to burn off the emulsified oil on the water’s surface, said Coast Guard Petty Officer Cory Mendenhall.About 97 percent of the spill is a rainbow sheen, less than a quarter-inch thick, Mendenhall said. The other 3 percent is a mixture of emulsified oil and seawater. It’s this 3 percent that is being corralled by booms and set aflame.

Coast Guard officials announced Wednesday night that a new leak was found at the site where the platform exploded and sank.

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