"Oil companies purchased new rights to drill on top of a 1970s dumping ground, where thousands of barrels of chemical waste litter the ocean floor."
"The Biden administration’s oil and gas lease sale in the Gulf of Mexico last week doesn’t just lock in decades of future drilling and greenhouse gas emissions, it also opens up more extraction in an area where chemical companies dumped tons of hazardous industrial waste.
Off the coast of Louisiana, in an area known as Mississippi Canyon, thousands of 55-gallon drums containing decades-old toxic waste remain scattered across a 200-square-mile stretch of ocean floor, as HuffPost revealed earlier this year. Chemical giants received federal permits to dump waste material there in the 1970s, and there has been little oversight of the area in the decades since.
The Environmental Protection Agency has acknowledged it is not monitoring the legacy dumping ground and has little if any understanding of the lingering environmental impacts. In light of HuffPost’s reporting, the agency said it had launched an assessment to determine whether the site qualifies for cleanup under the federal Superfund program.
But the decades-old waste hasn’t deterred fossil fuel interests in the area. Oil and gas companies are already drilling within the barrel field, with federal agencies allowing them to determine how best to avoid and reduce impacts to existing drums. In fact, it was a Shell drilling plan that shed light on the condition of remaining barrels, noting that many “still look intact” and “may or may not still contain their original content.”"