The U.S. Coast Guard said Tuesday that as much as 1.1 million gallons of oil may have leaked into the Gulf of Mexico from a pipeline system off Louisiana’s coast.
The affected pipeline has been shut down, but the Coast Guard said the exact source and cause of the leak were still to be discovered.
None of the oil had reached land as of Tuesday, though officials were investigating how the leak may have been impacting wildlife.
“Ocean wildlife will almost certainly pay a terrible price for this huge pipeline spill, which is less an accident than an entirely predictable consequence of offshore oil operations,” said Kristen Monsell of the Center for Biological Diversity said on social media.
Coast Guard officials believe the leak’s origin may be near the Main Pass Oil Gathering company’s pipeline system, located around Louisiana’s Plaquemines Parish, southeast of New Orleans.
While thousands of oil spills occur in U.S. waters every year, most involve no more than a single barrel or less of oil.
Over the past half-century, at least 44 spills have each released more than 420,000 gallons of oil.
The largest known aquatic oil spill ever, the Deepwater Horizon disaster in 2010, released more than 134 million gallons of water into the Gulf of Mexico. In the ensuing years, oil giant BP and its trustees agreed to pay up to $8.8 billion to address damages to natural resources in the Gulf.