NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA -- Louisiana Environmental Action Network and its Lower Mississippi Riverkeeper program along with Waterkeeper Alliance and several Gulf Coast Waterkeeper organizations filed suit in Federal Court today, February 2, 2012, against Taylor Energy Co., LLC under the citizen suit provisions of the Clean Water Act and Resource Conservation Recovery Act, for ongoing violations stemming from an oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico that has continued to flow for seven years.
In the wake of the BP oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico Lower Mississippi Riverkeeper joined with partner organizations Waterkeeper Alliance, SouthWings and Skytruth in order to form the Gulf Monitoring Consortium. The Gulf Monitoring Consortium is a partnership which is aimed at systematically monitoring oil pollution in the Gulf of Mexico with satellite images and mapping, aerial reconnaissance and photography, and on-the-water observation and sampling. Aided by aerial monitoring flights conducted by Southwings and the analysis of satellite imagery and research of National Response Center data conducted by SkyTruth The Gulf Monitoring Consortium became aware of and began to document evidence of the ongoing spill at the Taylor Energy site.
The discharge began in 2004 when an undersea landslide caused by Hurricane Ivan damaged an offshore platform and 28 associated wells 11 miles off of the Mississippi River Delta off the coast of Louisiana. Taylor has yet to stop the daily flow of oil from the site. Waterkeeper estimates that hundreds of gallons of oil have leaked from the site each day for the last 7 years.
"This incident is just one, if particularly egregious, example of a chronic oil and gas pollution problem in the Gulf of Mexico," said Paul Orr, Lower Mississippi Riverkeeper. "Through our work with Gulf Monitoring Consortium we have learned that the release of oil and other pollution by oil and gas in the Gulf is practically a daily occurrence. A healthy Gulf is absolutely vital for our coastal communities. We must have proper oversight of oil and gas activities we have in the gulf now before we move forward with even more risky drilling."
“The plaintiffs filed suit to stop the spill and lift the veil of secrecy surrounding Taylor Oil’s seven-year long response and recovery operation,” explained Marc Yaggi, Executive Director of Waterkeeper Alliance. “Neither the government nor Taylor will provide a single document related to the spill response, citing privacy concerns.”
Amid reports of dead sea mammals, poor shrimp seasons, record setting Gulf dead zones and dire predictions for coastal land loss; the groups bringing the lawsuit feel that something must be done to try to address the continued degradation of the stressed Northern Gulf. They see themselves as citizen enforcers of environmental laws. "If the government won't enforce the environmental laws that protect our communities and shared natural resources" Orr said, "then we will."
“The Taylor Oil spill is emblematic of a broken system, where oil production is prioritized over concerns for human health and the environment,” said Justin Bloom, Eastern Regional Director of Waterkeeper Alliance. “Nearly two years after the BP Deepwater Horizon Spill, none of the comprehensive reforms recommended by the National Oil Spill Commission have been enacted and Congress has yet to pass a single law to better protect workers, the environment or coastal communities.”
In addition to the announcement of the lawsuit, today the Gulf Monitoring Consortium is releasing a report chronicling the first seven months of their work monitoring oil pollution in the Gulf of Mexico. The report includes information about their monitoring of the Taylor Energy leak site as well as other oil spill incidents. There is also a section examining reporting of oil spills through the National Response Center in which the Consortium estimates that more than 2,000,000 gallons of oil may have been spilled into the Gulf of Mexico between October 2010 and September 2011. The report can be found at this web address: http://lmrk.org/issues/oil-and-chemical-spills/gulf-monitoring-consortium-update-report.html
The full complaint can be found here: http://www.tulane.edu/~telc/assets/pdfs/2-2-12_TaylorWell.pdf
Bringing the lawsuit are: Atchfalaya Basinkeeper, Baton Rouge, LA; Galveston Baykeeper, Galveston, TX, Lower Mississippi Riverkeeper, Baton Rouge, LA; Louisiana Bayoukeeper, Barataria, LA, Louisiana Environmental Action Network, Baton Rouge, LA. and Waterkeeper Alliance headquartered in New York, NY. Plaintiffs are represented by the Tulane Environmental Law Clinic.