NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The Coast Guard says it has approved plans to investigate another oil sheen spotted near the site of BP's 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster.
The sheen was spotted earlier this month, days after the company plugged an abandoned piece of equipment that was believed to be the source of an earlier sheen.
The oil from the latest sheen has been tested and is from the Macondo well where the disaster occurred, Coast Guard Ensign Glenn Sanchez said Thursday. Sanchez stressed, however, that the oil is classified as old or "dead" oil that has been trapped on the sea floor since the accident, not fresh oil leaking from the well site that was secured in 2010.
Robot submarines will inspect the rig's wreckage and other places near the blowout site next week. He said the operation will begin Monday but it could be midweek before the remotely operated subs are in place.
An earlier sheen had been spotted in September. A discarded steel container believed to be the source of that sheen was capped and plugged in October. On Oct. 25, BP and the Coast Guard said no oil was seen leaking out of the plugged container.
On Nov. 2, however, BP reported sighting another sheen in the same area.
Sanchez said the latest sheen is extremely thin and has varied in size, depending on water and weather conditions.
"It's been reported as big as three miles and as small as a football field," he said.
Eleven workers were killed when the April 2010 blowout triggered a deadly explosion on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig, owned by Transocean Ltd. and leased by BP. Millions of gallons of oil spewed into the Gulf before BP sealed the well.
BP and Transocean submitted the latest plan for determining the source of the sheen on Nov. 9, the Coast Guard news release said.
The Coast Guard statement also said that Capt. Duke Walker, the Federal On Scene Coordinator for the disaster response, has told BP and Transocean to develop options for dealing with oil that could still be contained within wreckage in the vicinity of the 2010 blowout.