LEAN, LMRK, Waterkeeper Alliance & Gulf Coast Waterkeepers Serve Notice of Intent to Sue Under Federal Environmental Laws, Targeting Chronic Oil Spill from the “Taylor Wells” in the Gulf of Mexico
New Orleans, LA- Louisiana Environmental Action Network and Lower Mississippi Riverkeeper along with Waterkeeper Alliance and several Gulf Coast Waterkeeper organizations announced today that Taylor Energy Co. LLC, Samsung C&T America, Inc., and Korea National Oil Corp. have been put on formal notice that the Waterkeepers intend to file suit under the citizens suit provisions of the Clean Water Act and Resource Conservation Recovery Act, for ongoing discharge violations that pose an imminent and substantial endangerment to health and the environment. The Notice follows the Waterkeepers’ investigation of Oil platform #23051 and its associated wells, referred to as the “Taylor Wells,” located in the Gulf of Mexico, approximately 11 miles off the coast of Louisiana.
Oil slick coming from the “Taylor Wells” site from NASA MODIS/Terra satellite image taken June 28, 2011. Red pushpin marks location of former Taylor Energy platform. Tip of Mississippi Delta at upper left; scattered clouds and shadows at right. Image by SkyTruth
Aided by satellite imagery and research expertise provided by SkyTruth the Waterkeepers learned that violations have been ongoing from the Taylor platform since at least October 1, 2006 and that the oil continues to discharge between 100 to 400 gallons of oil per day. The discharge produces visible slicks of oil on the water. One observed by SkyTruth on June 18, 2011, contained an estimated 3,157 gallons of oil. A chronology of observations and records of National Response Center (NRC) Pollution Reports can be found here: http://blog.skytruth.org/p/site-23051-chronology.html
Joining LEAN and Lower Mississippi Riverkeeper and representing their individual members are: Waterkeeper Alliance, New York, NY; Atchafalaya Basinkeeper, Baton Rouge, LA; Emerald Coastkeeper, Pensacola, FL; Galveston Baykeeper, Galveston, TX; and Louisiana Bayoukeeper, Lafitte, LA. The Waterkeepers are represented by the Tulane Environmental Law Clinic.
Paul Orr, the Lower Mississippi Riverkeeper, remarked that, “for more than five years the owners and operators of these wells have been polluting our Gulf waters and government regulators have allowed it to continue. These spills degrade the natural resources that are the lifeblood of our Gulf Coast communities. It is time to put an end to the thousands of spills that happen every year in the Gulf.”
Taylor Wells slick as seen by satellite imagery from September 26, 2011. The apparent slick is about 20 miles long and covers about 115 square kilometers. Assuming an average thickness of 1 micron (1/1000th of a millimeter), that’s 30,705 gallons of oil. If this slick is at the lower limit of visible detection, 0.1 microns, it would be 3,000 gallons
Oil spills in the Gulf of Mexico are a daily occurrence. In their recently released State of the Gulf report, the Gulf Coast Waterkeepers revealed that at least 3,156 new crude oil spills have occurred in the Gulf between September 2010 and September 2011. A link to the report can be found at: http://saveourgulf.org/updates/state-gulf-released-gulf-coast-waterkeepers. Sadly, there appears to be little incentive on the part of industry to be more vigilant. According to a report in Bloomberg News in 2009, in Louisiana alone, only 1 oil spill out of 100 resulted in a financial penalty (http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-02-03/oil-spills-in-most-imperiled-u-s-coastal-wetland-escape-fines.html).
“The BP oil disaster was not the first oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and it won’t be the last. The industry clearly has an oil spill problem. Most people are not aware of how little accountability there is for polluters. Out of sight, out of mind seems to be the status quo, but our Gulf of Mexico Waterkeepers hope to bring visibility and action to stop oil spills that affect communities all along the Gulf Coast,” said Renee Blanchard of Waterkeeper Alliance.
“At a time when we most need the protections offered by our environmental laws, they are under increasing attack. As the Clean Water Act turns 39 next week, keep in mind that these are the tools that we as a nation rely upon for a healthy environment and our future prosperity,” said Marc Yaggi, Executive Director of Waterkeeper Alliance.
Jamie Rodgers, the Florida Panhandle’s Emerald Coastkeeper commented that, “the Clean Water Act and other Federal Environmental Laws are the foundation for the private and public response to the Deepwater Horizon disaster. These critically important tools are what we rely upon to curb the continuing pollution of the Gulf of Mexico, to make violators accountable.”
Paul Orr, Lower Mississippi Riverkeeper, 225-802-9255, firstname.lastname@example.org
Renee Blanchard, Waterkeeper Alliance, 202-378-3704, email@example.com
Justin Bloom, Waterkeeper Alliance, 212-747-0622 x 11, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Clean Water Act