NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana - The US Coast Guard dispatched emergency teams Tuesday after a boat crashed into an oil well off the coast of New Orleans, reportedly sending crude spewing some 20 feet into the air.
The wellhead, located about 65 miles (104 kilometers) south of New Orleans, was ruptured when it was struck by a dredge barge being pulled by a tug.
The Coast Guard said it could not immediately confirm reports that a giant fountain of oil was now spewing from the damaged wellhead, which was situated only six feet (1.8 meters) below the surface of the sea.
A strike Coast Guard team from Mobile, Alabama had been dispatched by boat to the scene as well as a helicopter from New Orleans with a marine pollution investigator on board.
"There have been reports of oil from the elision and we are investigating those reports to mitigate any environmental concerns," petty officer William Colclough, a Coast Guard spokesman, told AFP.
"The oil spill liability trust fund has been enacted to provide monetary support for any clean-up operation."
Unrelated to the massive gusher recently capped by BP deep down on the seabed, the incident did occur in a nearby part of the Gulf of Mexico and could require clean-up vessels to be redeployed if reports are confirmed.