Nightly News | July 29, 2010
JANET SHAMLIAN reporting: I'm Janet Shamlian in Barataria Bay . Officials said it would be fixed within a day, but an abandoned well hit by a tugboat has now been spewing a toxic mix of oil and natural gas into the gulf for almost three days, and the Coast Guard says it could be 12 before it's finally capped.
Mr. DEANO BONANO (Jefferson Parish Director of Homeland Security): It's spewing about 30 barrels of oil a day into the area, the very area that was already impacted by the BP oil well spill. So it's not good news for us.
SHAMLIAN: What began as a small leak now blankets six square miles, as spools of containment boom wage a David and Goliath battle to protect fragile estuaries nearby.
Mr. JAMES PETERS: I've seen plenty of seen barges hit, you know, different well heads and stuff like that, but I've never seen one spurt like that.
SHAMLIAN: Charter captain James Peters knows wells are sometimes marked with only a sign and small light, or not at all, making them dangerous obstacles. The gulf waters are a minefield of abandoned oil and gas wells that, for the most part, go unchecked to see if they're leaking.
Mr. PETERS: It's amazing. I mean, there wouldn't be enough people in south Louisiana to check every one of them every day. I mean, there's more -- there's more well heads in Louisiana than there are people.
SHAMLIAN: The Associated Press reports as many as 27,000 wells are considered abandoned and says some gulf state officials worry many of them are badly sealed.
Mr. PHILIP RADFORD (Greenpeace Executive Director): It happens a lot. It'll keep happening as this equipment gets older. The only solution is better regulation, make the polluters pay and phase out of this risky business of oil drilling .
SHAMLIAN: For its part, the energy industry defends the integrity of the wells, saying if properly capped they should last forever,