Transocean Deepwater Inc. has agreed to pay $400 million in criminal fines and penalties and, within the terms of a proposed partial consent decree, $1 billion for Clean Water Act violations for its role in the 2010 Gulf oil disaster.
The order mandates $150 million of the $400 million will be dedicated to "acquiring, restoring, preserving and conserving" marine and coastal environments and wildlife habitat along the Gulf of Mexico, and a portion will also benefit barrier island restoration and wetland restoration along Louisiana. An additional $150 million will be directed to training for and implementing proper drilling procedures. The unprecedented $1 billion from Clean Water Act violations will be subject to the recently approved RESTORE Act, which will funnel 80 percent to Gulf Coast states
Under the settlement, Transocean also must implement federally mandated improvements to rig conditions, rig safety and emergency response. With its guilty plea, Transocean admits that its crewmembers aboard the Deepwater Horizon failed to fully investigate whether the well was secure, and that oil and gas were flowing into the well before its explosion and months-long leak in 2010.
In a statement, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said, "This resolution of criminal allegations and civil claims against Transocean brings us one significant step closer to justice for the human, environmental and economic devastation wrought by the Deepwater Horizon disaster."
Updated 12:05 p.m., following Coast Guard press conference.
Here's a quick summary of some of the updates from this morning's news of an oil platform (not a rig) that caught fire in the Gulf of Mexico at about 9:15 a.m.:
The U.S. Coast Guard announced that an oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico was on fire — Facebook photos shared with KLFY-TV confirmed.
Houston station KHOU-TV reported
two deaths on the platform, with two missing (presumed dead) and four with serious injuries, who were airlifted from the platform.
Update (12:05 p.m.): U.S. Coast Guard reports there no confirmed deaths, though there are two missing platform workers.
From WWL-TV: The platform is about 20 miles from Grand Isle and is owned by Houston-based Black Elk Energy (which also has offices in Louisiana). The platform workers arrived at West Jefferson Medical Center, then transported to Baton Rouge Burn Center, where they are in critical condition.
KLFY also reported that the fire likely started after platform maintenance workers cut into a pipe from which oil may have escaped. WWL reported that the platform was not producing any oil.
According to WWNO, Black Elk Energy owns, operates or has a financial interest in more than 854 wells on 155 platforms across 430,000 acres offshore.
The Coast Guard reported that there were 26 workers on the platform (though initial reports said there were 28), and a total of nine people were air-lifted. Grand Isle EMS met other workers as they arrived on shore.
According to WWL, Plaquemines Parish officials contained the fire by 10:30 a.m., and Jefferson Parish officials later reported the fire was out.
Follow the Twitter hashtag #platformfire for breaking updates.
Update (12:05): Ed Cubanski, incident management branch chief for the 8th Coast Guard district said the fire likely started from a torch used to cut a 75-feet-long line on the platform. There may have been 28 gallons of oil in the pipe, and a one half-mile-long oil sheen has been spotted in the area. Eleven people were Medevaced to four area hospitals, and Coast Guard crew from Venice, Grand Isle and New Orleans are looking for two crewmembers. Four crewmembers are being treated for burns in Baton Rouge.
BP has agreed to plead guilty to 14 federal criminal counts related to the 2010 Gulf Oil Disaster — including 11 counts of felony manslaughter for the workers killed in the Deepwater Horizon explosion — U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced at a New Orleans press conference today.
"BP has agreed to plead guilty to all 14 criminal charges including responsibility for the deaths of 11 people and the events that led to an environmental catastrophe," Holder said. "The company has also agreed to pay $4 billion in fines and in penalties. This marks both the largest single criminal fine — more than $1.25 billion — and the largest total criminal resolution — $4 billion — in the history of the United States."
The U.S. Department of Justice has also indicted two former supervisors on the Deepwater Horizon — Robert Kaluza and Donald Vidrine — for manslaughter. Kaluza and Vidrine are scheduled to be arraigned on Nov. 28.
"After nearly three years and tens of millions of dollars in investigation, the Government needs a scapegoat. Bob was not an executive or high-level BP official. He was a dedicated rig worker who mourns his fallen co-workers every day.m No one should take any satisfaction in this indictment of an innocent man. This is not justice," reads an emailed statement from Kaluza's attorneys Shaun Clarke and David Gerger.
(More after the jump)
The America’s WETLAND Foundation's latest report urges lawmakers to pledge billions of dollars to Gulf Coast restoration.
Released today, “Beyond Unintended Consequences: Adaptation for Gulf Coast Resiliency and Sustainability" is the result of forums held in 11 Gulf Coast communities (including Lake Charles, Avery Island, Houma, Plaquemines Parish and New Orleans) in the last year. It gathered 1,100 "stakeholders" in environment, business, government and other agencies to make recommendations for rebuilding the coast. The report also based its recommendations on the findings of a $4.2 million study from Entergy.
The 30 recommendations outlined in the report are a "roadmap for adaptation and long-term sustainability, beginning with an urgent need for federal policy changes," it says. The report's opening letter co-signed by Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne and officials from Gulf Coast states reads, "We are pleased that this cooperative initiative has positioned the Gulf Coast to adapt to change. Resiliency is often talked about these days, but meaningful action is scarce, and the country cannot afford to wait."
Hurricane Isaac may well have put Braithwaite on the map for many people around the country watching the harrowing news reports of flooding there. But regular shoppers at the Crescent City Farmers Market likely already have a strong association between the tiny Plaquemines Parish town and fresh citrus. That’s because Braithwaite is home to two market vendors and citrus-growing families — Lester and Linda L'Hoste of L’Hoste Family Farm and Kenneth and Aloma Savastano of A&K Citrus.
Farmers market director Emery Van Hook says she has heard from both families, and reports that they are safe and are now waiting for flood waters to recede before taking stock of their homes and farms.
While the city of New Orleans is now largely in clean-up mode, many of the farmers, fishermen and fresh food vendors who supply our kitchens and restaurants live and work in areas that have been devastated by Isaac, from low-lying coastal areas to communities in the River Parishes, on the northshore and in Mississippi that are now grappling with severe inland flooding.
The American Public Transportation Association (APTA), in partnership with The Sierra Club and The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), hosts its seventh annual National Dump the Pump Day Thursday, June 21.
The goal of National Dump the Pump Day is to make citizens aware of the benefits of using public transportation as opposed to driving: reducing the carbon footprint, decreasing fuel dependency, minimizing congestion and saving money on gas, maintenance, insurance and parking.
(More details—including how to ride with Gambit and get your #DumpthePumpNOLA pictures posted—below the jump.)
New Orleans resident can drop off household hazardous wastes at 2829 Elysian Fields Ave. from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, June 9.
The Department of Sanitation will collect items that shouldn’t be disposed of in garbage cans or curbside recycling, including batteries, televisions, paint, light bulbs, oil, mercury devices, aerosols, pesticides, household cleaners, chemicals, oil, gasoline and acids. There is no charge, and the city will dispose of or recycle all items in an environmentally safe manner.
For more information, visit http://recycle.nola.gov.
Greenpeace filed many Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests for information, including photos, related to the 2010 BP oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. Today, it published photos related to an endangered species of turtle. It also published government aerial shots of oil in the Gulf and marshes.
In Barataria Bay, scientists and researchers with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association have been studying bottlenose dolphins in the wake of the BP oil disaster.
The NOAA performed physicals on 32 dolphins in 2011, and today, the early results are dramatic: many are "underweight, anemic, have low blood sugar and/or some symptoms of liver and lung disease," and "nearly half also have abnormally low levels of the hormones that help with stress response, metabolism and immune function." One of those dolphins died in early 2012.
An "Unusual Mortality Event" was declared by NOAA following a spike in dolphins entering (and dying in) the northern Gulf of Mexico — since February 2010, NOAA said, more than 675 dolphins have been stranded there (atypical of an average 74 per year). Most have died, but 33 were stranded alive, and seven were put into rehabilitation, according to NOAA.
NOAA told Baton Rouge's Advocate that though a link can't be made between the 2010 oil disaster and the plunge in dolphin health, it's been seen before.
The study was performed under the Natural Resource Damage Assessment, a requirement under the Oil Pollution Act of 1990.
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