In response to a motion by the Department of Justice (DOJ), the U.S. District Court in New Orleans has ordered that a security zone be established around the wreckage of the Deepwater Horizon rig in the Gulf of Mexico (GOM).

The security zone, which would remain in place until at least Oct. 8, 2011, would extend 750 feet in all directions from the center of mobile offshore drilling unit Deepwater Horizon, which sank off the southern coast of Louisiana in April and resulted in a massive oil spill in the GOM. The wreckage, which is located in an area known as the Mississippi Canyon, also would extend from the sea floor of the GOM to the sea surface.

The federal court ruled that it would be in the interest of the public to protect the search area and any evidence located in the area against intentional or unintentional loss. It directed the DOJ to inform the public and companies about the security zone.

DOJ has informed companies, such as oil and natural gas producers, who have the means and equipment to operate in the wreckage site not to enter the security zone. The order will be enforced by the United States using a full range of vessels, aircraft or other appropriate means and equipment, the DOJ said.

Eleven workers died in the blast aboard the rig, which was owned and operated by Transocean Inc. and leased by BP plc (see Daily GPI, April 22).

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