Lawsuit seeks info, damages in 7-year oil spill

Feb 2, 2012, 10:45 PM

Associated Press

NEW ORLEANS (AP) – An environmental watchdog group filed a lawsuit Thursday against the company it blames for an oil spill 11 miles off the coast of Louisiana, claiming oil has been flowing into the Gulf of Mexico for more than seven years with few details about what’s being done to stop it.

Waterkeeper Alliance claims hundreds of gallons of oil are leaking every day from the site where an offshore platform and 28 oil wells owned by Taylor Energy Co. were damaged by a seafloor mudslide triggered by Hurricane Ivan in 2004.

By comparison, the 2010 blowout of BP PLC’s Macondo well spewed more than 200 million gallons total, for an average of about 2.35 million gallons a day, according to government figures.

The New York-based alliance said they filed the federal lawsuit in New Orleans because Taylor Energy and government regulators refuse to answer basic questions about their spill response.

“This spill is in relatively shallow water,” said Justin Bloom, a regional director for the group. “If it takes more than seven years to contain a spill like this in a relatively accessible environment, what would happen in a dangerous and inaccessible deepwater environment?”

Taylor Energy didn’t immediately respond to calls Thursday seeking comment. A spokeswoman for the Interior Department’s Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement said the agency doesn’t comment on pending litigation.

The suit accuses the New Orleans-based company of violating the Clean Water Act and Resource Conservation Recovery Act and seeks civil penalties of up to $37,500 per day.

Waterkeeper Alliance says satellite imagery and an analysis of oil slicks indicate oil is leaking from the site at a rate of 100 to 400 gallons per day.

The Coast Guard, however, says the average amount of oil leaking from the site is 7.5 gallons per day. Oil sheens from the site have been “minimal” and have never made landfall, according to the Coast Guard, which says a total of 12,720 gallons of oil have been reported from daily observations since the spill started in 2004 .

The Coast Guard also says three containment domes were deployed to capture the oil.

“The sheen size of a few gallons (in volume as observed over the sheen dimensional area) has been too thin of an oil film to warrant offshore recovery operations,” a Coast Guard statement says.

The April 20, 2010, blowout of the Macondo well triggered the nation’s worst offshore oil spill, with more than 200 million gallons of oil gushing into the Gulf. Oil from the BP spill washed up on beaches, befouled marshes and disrupted the region’s seafood industry.

While the spill blamed on Taylor Energy is minuscule in comparison, Bloom said it’s reasonable to assume the leak has had a “cumulative impact” harmful to the Gulf’s environment.

The Interior Department directed Taylor Energy to deposit $500 million in a trust to cover spill-related expenses, according to a report issued by the Waterkeeper Alliance. The alliance says a rig that Taylor Energy hired to plug the damaged wells hasn’t been seen at the site since June 2011 even though oil slicks continue to be spotted nearby.

“This suggests that fixing the leak is a low priority for the company and government regulators,” the report says.

Other environmental groups are named as plaintiffs in the suit, including the Louisiana Environmental Action Network, Atchafalaya Basinkeeper, Galveston Baykeeper and Louisiana Bayoukeeper.

In October, Waterkeeper Alliance filed a notice of its intent to sue and sent demand letters to Taylor Energy and two other companies, Korea National Oil Corp. and Samsung C&T Corp. In 2008, Taylor Energy sold most of its energy assets for an undisclosed price to the other two companies, which formed a joint venture to operate them. Korea National and Samsung, however, have said Taylor Energy retained ownership of the production platform and wells that are the target of the lawsuit.

___

Online:

Waterkeeper Alliance:
http://waterkeeper.org/

Taylor Energy:
http://www.taylorenergy.com/

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

United States News

Associated Press

Flamethrower used to torch Pan-African flag flying on pole

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — A person using a flamethrower set fire Saturday to a Pan-African flag flying on a pole outside the headquarters of the Uhuru Movement, a Black international socialist group based in Florida. Security video released by the group shows the driver of a white Honda sedan pulling up outside the group’s […]
14 hours ago
Associated Press

First Black woman named as Connecticut’s top public defender

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — The first Black woman has been appointed as Connecticut’s chief public defender. TaShun Bowden-Lewis, who officially began her job on Friday overseeing the Division of Public Defender Services, said she hopes to provide minority clients with a greater sense of trust in the state’s criminal justice system. “I do want our […]
14 hours ago
FILE - In this Monday, Nov. 18, 2019 file photo, the logo of Google is displayed on a carpet at the...
Associated Press

Google to erase more location info as abortion bans expand

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. (AP) — Google will automatically purge information about users who visit abortion clinics or other places that could trigger legal problems now that the U.S. Supreme Court has opened the door for states to ban the termination of pregnancies. The company behind the internet’s dominant internet search engine and the Android software […]
14 hours ago
Clouds pass behind the guitar sculpture at the entrance to the Hard Rock casino in Atlantic City, N...
Associated Press

Hard Rock deal ends casino strike threat in Atlantic City

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) — The Hard Rock casino reached agreement with Atlantic City’s main casino workers union on Saturday, removing the last threat of a strike during the busy holiday weekend and clearing the way for the gambling halls and their workers to concentrate on bouncing back from financial losses during the coronavirus pandemic. […]
14 hours ago
Clouds pass behind the guitar sculpture at the entrance to the Hard Rock casino in Atlantic City, N...
Associated Press

Hard Rock deal ends casino strike threat in Atlantic City

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) — The Hard Rock casino reached agreement with Atlantic City’s main casino workers union on Saturday, removing the last threat of a strike during the busy holiday weekend and clearing the way for the gambling halls and their workers to concentrate on bouncing back from financial losses during the coronavirus pandemic. […]
14 hours ago
Travelers run to their gate at George Bush Intercontinental Airport, Friday, July 1, 2022, in Houst...
Associated Press

Holiday getaway pushes US airport traffic to pandemic high

BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) — The Fourth of July holiday weekend is jamming U.S. airports with their biggest crowds since the pandemic began in 2020. About 2.49 million passengers went through security checkpoints at U.S. airports Friday, surpassing the previous pandemic-era record of 2.46 million reached earlier in the week, according to figures released Saturday by […]
14 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
CANVAS ANNUITY

Best retirement savings rates hit 4.30%

Maximize your retirement savings with guaranteed fixed rates up to 4.30%. Did you know there is a financial product that can give you great interest rates as you build your retirement savings and provide you with a paycheck for life once you retire? It might sound too good to be true but it is not; this product is called an annuity.
...
Day & Night Air

Tips to lower your energy bill in the Arizona heat

Does your summer electric bill make you groan? Are you looking for effective ways to reduce your bill?
...
Carla Berg, MHS, Deputy Director, Public Health Services, Arizona Department of Health Services

ADHS mobile program brings COVID-19 vaccines and boosters to Arizonans

The Arizona Department of Health Services and partner agencies are providing even more widespread availability by making COVID-19 vaccines available in neighborhoods through trusted community partners.
Lawsuit seeks info, damages in 7-year oil spill