US: $475M settlement proposed in longest-running oil spill

R&I – FS

A New Orleans-based oil company has agreed to turn over a $432m clean-up trust fund and pay an additional $43m to settle a federal lawsuit over cleaning up abandoned wells leaking since 2004, federal prosecutors said Wednesday.

“This settlement represents an important down payment to address impacts from the longest-running oil spill in U.S. history,” Nicole LeBoeuf, director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency’s National Ocean Service, said in a news release from the United States Department of Justice.

Attorneys for Taylor Oil Co., which agreed to drop three lawsuits challenging government clean-up orders and measures, did not immediately respond to an email requesting comment. As is common in such agreements, the proposed settlement said Taylor does not admit any liability.

US District Judge Greg Gerard Guidry will decide whether to approve the proposed consent decree after a 40-day public comment period.

Sixteen wells off Louisiana have been leaking since September 2004, when a subsea mudslide caused by Hurricane Ivan knocked over a Taylor production platform, dragging and breaking a cluster of pipes. Taylor plugged nine wells but has said it cannot plug the rest.

The settlement requires Taylor to drop its other lawsuits. In June, a federal appeals court agreed that a district judge was right to throw out a trespass suit against a federal contractor that created a system to capture most of the oil.

That system has captured and removed more than 800,000 gallons (3 million litres) of oil since April 2019, Coast Guard captain Will Watson, sector commander in New Orleans, said in the news release.


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