With a vast oil slick now within only 20 miles of the ecologically fragile Louisiana coastline, Coast Guard officials said they were considering a “controlled burn” of the petroleum on the surface of the Gulf of Mexico.
Rear Adm. Mary E. Landry, the federal on-scene coordinator for the spill, said such a burn might be conducted as soon as Wednesday.
A joint government and industry task force has been unable to stop crude oil from streaming out of a broken pipe attached to a well 5,000 feet below sea level. The leaks were found Saturday, days after an oil rig to which the pipe was attached exploded and sank in the gulf about 50 miles southeast of Venice, La. An estimated 42,000 gallons a day are now spilling into the Gulf of Mexico.