Officials respond to small spill at Calcasieu Point launch

Alcoa claims responsibility for small spill near Calcasieu Point

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - The Lake Charles Coast Guard responded to a small spill at the Calcasieu Point Boat Launch.

Coast Guard officials got the call around 11:45 a.m. Wednesday.

Employees with Calcasieu Parish Parks were on scene, constructing a new waterfront pavilion and called OEP to assist.

An official on scene said the substance has been tested and it is not hazardous. Meanwhile, about 1,000-feet of absorbent white boom and additional 10,000 feet of inflatable orange boom along the impacted perimeter has been put in the water to prevent further impact.

Alcoa U.S. Primary-Metals is taking responsibility for the spill. The company's facility sits just up the river from Calcasieu Point.

Alcoa Plant Manager Steven Thompson said workers were doing a routine check and samples of their waste water treatment facilities Wednesday morning and noticed that oil was in the ship channel.

The company contacted the Coast Guard and the Department of Environmental Quality, along with Waste Water Specialities, Inc., to begin containment and cleanup.

"A little bit of oil will go a long way in a waterway like this. So it probably looks worse than it really is," said Paige Clayton, with Waste Water Specialities, Inc.

Clayton explained the process of containing and removing the oil from the waters

"We use the boom to contain it. Once we get it into small pockets we use an oil skimmer to vacuum it up. It only sucks up the oil and leaves the water. Only the oil is collected from the contaminated area," said Clayton.

According to Thompson, one of the oil skimmers was not working properly in Alcoa's waste water treatment facility and is believed to have contributed to the spill. He said the problem has been resolved and oil is no longer leaking.

"We're not really sure as to what happened. We will have a full investigation as to what took place. Right now we know that it is contained. We know what caused the issue and we'll take corrective action from there," said Thompson.

Thompson believes they caught it early. He said cleanup will take about two days. 

The Coast Guard is asking boaters to use caution while navigating near the cleanup area.
The launch remains closed for now.

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