Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

Pollution From Oil Wells and Industrial Sites Hit by Hurricane Laura Remains Unknown

Pollution From Oil Wells and Industrial Sites Hit by Hurricane Laura Remains Unknown
An LNG processing plant is seen in Cameron, Louisiana on August 26, 2020. Andrew Caballero-Reynolds / AFP / Getty Images

The full extent of the damage wrought by the storm formerly known as Hurricane Laura will only continue to grow as the weakened storm continues inland and pollution from petrochemical plants and other industrial sites is discovered.

More than 1,400 active oil wells sit in the path Hurricane Laura carved through Louisiana's coastline, some of which are decades old and especially vulnerable due to the state's receding coastline.

"I have a lump in my throat thinking about them," Bob Bea, a specialist in catastrophic risk management and former well manager for Shell, told the New Orleans Advocate.

The environmental damage caused by leaking wells, as well as from pollution spread from other damaged industrial sites, may not be discovered for days as officials focus on search and rescue tasks in the wake of the storm.

The storm's rapid intensification, fueled by exceptionally warm sea-surface temperatures, likely made matters worse but overconfidence from regulators and oil companies is also to blame, according to Bea.

"When it comes to how we manage our platforms, pipelines, and wells, we here in the U.S. are not world leaders in risk management," he said.

"We're not Canada or Norway. We're not even a Third World country."

For a deeper dive:

New Orleans Advocate; Potential industrial pollution: AP, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Buzzfeed

For more climate change and clean energy news, you can follow Climate Nexus on Twitter and Facebook, and sign up for daily Hot News.

A couple react as they go through their destroyed mobile home following Hurricane Laura in Lake Charles, Louisiana, on August 27, 2020. ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS / AFP / Getty Images

By Mark Hertsgaard and Kyle Pope

In this autumn of horrific fires and deadly floods, it's easy to overlook one bit of promising news on the climate front: Some major U.S. media coverage of the crisis is finally getting better.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Since April 2020, farmer support for Trump has fallen from 89 percent to 71 percent, according to an August 2020 survey by DTN/The Progressive Farmer. Steve Smith / Getty Imagess

By Leanna First-Arai

In a push to capture the rural vote, 62 percent of which went to Trump in 2016, both the Trump and Biden campaigns are ramping up efforts to appeal to farmers and ranchers.

Read More Show Less


An electric car at an eVgo charging station in a parking lot in Dublin, California on June 20, 2018. Smith Collection / Gado / Getty Images

California Governor Gavin Newsom signed an executive order Wednesday that would ban the sale of new cars in California that run only on gasoline by the year 2035. The bid to reduce emissions and combat the climate crisis would make California the first state to ban the sale of new cars with internal combustion engines, according to POLITICO.

Read More Show Less

A "trash tsunami" has washed ashore on the beaches of Honduras, endangering both wildlife and the local economy.

Read More Show Less
Long-finned pilot whales are seen during a 1998 stranding in Marion Bay in Tasmania, Australia. Auscape / Universal Images Group / Getty Images

More long-finned pilot whales were found stranded today on beaches in Tasmania, Australia. About 500 whales have become stranded, including at least 380 that have died, the AP reported. It is the largest mass stranding in Australia's recorded history.

Read More Show Less

Support Ecowatch