The US Coast Guard dispatched emergency teams Tuesday after a boat crashed into an oil well off the coast of New Orleans, reportedly sending crude spewing some 20 feet into the air.
AFP - AP
The wellhead, located about 65 miles (104 kilometers) south of New Orleans, was ruptured when it was struck by a dredge barge being pulled by a tug.
The Coast Guard said it could not immediately confirm reports that a giant fountain of oil was now spewing from the damaged wellhead, which was situated only six feet (1.8 meters) below the surface of the sea.
A strike Coast Guard team from Mobile, Alabama had been dispatched by boat to the scene as well as a helicopter from New Orleans with a marine pollution investigator on board.
"There have been reports of oil from the elision and we are investigating those reports to mitigate any environmental concerns," petty officer William Colclough, a Coast Guard spokesman, told AFP.
"The oil spill liability trust fund has been enacted to provide monetary support for any clean-up operation."
Unrelated to the massive gusher recently capped by BP deep down on the seabed, the incident did occur in a nearby part of the Gulf of Mexico and could require clean-up vessels to be redeployed if reports are confirmed.