DEQ: Bay gunk algae, not oil - - The News for South Mississippi

DEQ: Bay gunk algae, not oil


BAY ST. LOUIS, MS (WLOX) – WLOX News just got a statement from the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality. It determined that a brown gelatinous material found behind a containment boom located in St. Louis Bay in Hancock County on June 20 was not oil.

According to a DEQ news release, the suspect material has been found to be a mass of decaying algae mixed with components of fish oil and diesel fuel. It does not appear to be related to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

MDEQ scientists reached this conclusion based on the microscopic evaluations by scientists from the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources (DMR) and the Gulf Coast Research Lab, chemical analysis by Micro-Methods Laboratory, a local contract laboratory, and recent air and water surveillance activities.

MDEQ and DMR boat and aerial surveillance have confirmed the presence of numerous algae blooms in the Mississippi Sound, Chandeleur Sound, and the Gulf of Mexico over the last several weeks, and recent flights noted the presence of several menhaden trawlers working near Cat Island. It appears likely that the remnants of an algal bloom, mixed with byproducts of the menhaden fishery, and diesel fuel from a local vessel produced the material trapped behind the boom. The diesel components are not believed to be from the oil spill because they would have been removed by the weathering process on the 120 mile journey from the well site to St. Louis Bay.

"MDEQ personnel on site Sunday stated the mass was biological in nature and not oil spill related. We are glad to have these confirmatory sample results. We are talking with the Coast Guard and BP to improve surveillance activities so our citizens will know when a mass of this size, even if it is algae, is near shore and expected to come on shore. We know that the people of South Mississippi have been dealing with much uncertainty for weeks, and MDEQ and DMR staff are working to ensure the waters, beaches, and air of the Mississippi Gulf Coast remain safe," said Trudy Fisher, MDEQ Executive Director.

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