Despite plans and pleas from a variety of conservation groups to convert the oil platform known as High Island 389-A into an artificial reef, the federal government says “nyet” and insists it must be destroyed and removed.
The dormant oil platform, about 100 miles southeast of Galveston, hosts a variety of marine life including corals, sea fans and sponges. Schools of jack and snapper, solitary grouper, and barracuda circle in its shadows. Dive boats periodically stop at the enormous structure, where dolphins, sea turtles, and sharks are often spotted.
Now, 30 years after it was built and months after it was abandoned, it is set to be demolished under Interior Department rules governing non-producing ocean structures. And when it goes, the lush ecosystem that has grown around it will also vanish. There are now about 650 such oil and gas industry relics, known as idle iron, that may meet this fate.
The federal government estimates that the blasts needed to remove one platform kill 800 fish, although others who have observed the process put the number in the thousands. Much of the marine life on or around the structure dies, either from the explosions to separate the platform from its supports or when it is toppled or towed to shore and recycled as scrap metal.