On September 03, 2005 FOSC Harris and one START contractor investigated a report of a large oil release in Chalmette, LA. Information at that time was that the source of the release was unknown, and that USAR teams working in the Hurricane stricken area were recovering oiled persons.
With an armed U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) escort, the investigation team traveled by land and boat to the area, and confirmed that the source was the Murphy Oil refinery in Meraux. Locals reported that the oil may have reached 10 miles north into an unnamed marsh, but the team was unable to access the area to confirm that.
At the refinery, FOSC Harris directed Murphy to secure the affected tank, identify the extent of the release, develop a reliable estimate of amount released and report status ASAP. Visual inspection led FOSC Harris to believe that the affected area might cover several square miles of roads and residential and commercial property. Continuing with the armed USCG escort, the team reconned several miles along the MS River, and saw no signs of the oil there.
According to Murphy Oil USA, approximately 25,000 barrels (1,050,000 gallons) of medium Arabian crude oil was released from a partially filled (85,000 barrels) 250,000 barrel storage tank (#250-2) at their Meraux refinery during Hurricane Katrina in September, 2005.
Extensive investigation revealed that approximately 1,800 homes and a yet undetermined number of other properties within a 1+ square mile area were oiled. Several canals were also oiled: the 20 Arpent, the 40 Arpent, the Meraux, the Corinnes, the Delarond and various unnamed interceptor canals.
As part of the Hurricane Katrina response, EPA and the USCG agreed to divide oversight roles. The USCG will oversee Murphy's removal of free oil in the canals, tank farm containment area and storm drains. EPA will oversee Murphy's cleanup of oil in residential and other properties accessible to the public (commercial, parks, schools, roads, highway medians, sidewalks etc.).