Regulators Relax Monitoring of Decade-old Gulf Oil Leak

This March 31, 2015, file photo shows an oil sheen drifting from the site of the former Taylor Energy oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico, off the coast of Louisiana. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File)

BATON ROUGE, La. — Federal regulators have relaxed a pollution monitoring requirement for a company responsible for a decade-old oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico, a slow-motion spill that could last another century.

In 2008, the Coast Guard ordered Taylor Energy Company to conduct daily flights over the site of its leak to visually monitor chronic oil sheens that often stretch for miles off Louisiana’s coast.

That requirement remained in effect until December, when the Coast Guard amended the order to reduce the minimum number of required overflights to twice a week.

Regulators didn’t announce the change at the time. The Coast Guard confirmed details of its new order on Tuesday in response to an Associated Press inquiry.

Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer Bobby Nash said flights are often cancelled due to weather and "other safety issues," and they rarely detect the presence of oil that could be recovered from the water’s surface.

"Based on this historical knowledge and consistent patterns of sheening near the site, the new overflight frequency will target calm days when there is greater likelihood to observe dark, recoverable product on the water’s surface," Nash said in a statement…

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