BP Files Suit over Louisiana DNR Order

Deepwater Horizon Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill

BP plc filed a lawsuit against the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Thursday after DNR ordered BP to remove anchors left in place following the Deepwater Horizon incident in 2010.

DNR ordered BP to remove the anchors based upon authority granted to the agency under the Coastal Resource Management Act.

"These anchors are abandoned, serve no purpose in the clean-up efforts now and are hazards to navigation and boaters,” said DNR Secretary Stephen Chustz in a statement.

However, BP said the attempt by Louisiana officials to order BP to remove the anchors is preempted by federal law, and BP cannot be punished under state law for doing what federal law requires, a BP spokesperson told Rigzone in an email.

As part of the federal response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, anchors were dropped throughout the U.S. Gulf to hold in place lines of boom to keep oil from reaching Louisiana’s coastline. While BP physically placed the anchors and boom in the Gulf, federal officials directed the use of boom and anchors holding the boom in place to help avoid and mitigate environmental harm, according to BP suit which was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana.

After the Macondo well was capped in July 2010, response workers collected the boom and anchors wherever possible and reasonable. However, anchors lost or buried deep in the sediment were not recovered. Federal officials concluded that recovery of these anchors posed an unacceptable environmental risk. Due to this determination, BP has not tried to recover the anchors because doing so would violate federal law, BP said in the filing.

“After a series of thorough studies, the U.S. Coast Guard determined that those anchors should not be removed because doing so poses an unacceptable risk to the environment,” said Geoff Morell, BP senior vice president of U.S. communications and external affairs for BP, in a statement.

BP called DNR’s order the latest “in a series of inexplicable decisions” by Louisiana, including the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries closure of fishing areas this summer without scientific explanation. Morrell noted that DNR’s decisions “smack of nothing more than political gamesmanship” to mislead the public and gain “some sort of litigation advantage.”

Karen Boman has more than 10 years of experience covering the upstream oil and gas sector. Email Karen at kboman@rigzone.com


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