Alabama Charges BP, Transocean For BP Gulf Oil Spill Coverup and Using Dangerous Toxic Dispersants
Now if we can only get other states to follow suit AND add a few more defendants to the list like the cronies in the Government who are allowing this to happen.
WKRG News 5 in Alabama reports that the Attorney General of Alabama has filed charges against BP and Transocean for covering up the BP Gulf Oil Spill and using a dangerous and highly toxic choice of chemical dispersants among other things.
MONTGOMERY, Alabama – Alabama’s attorney general is suing BP and others over the Gulf oil spill saying the oil giant has broken too many promises.
Attorney General Troy King filed two lawsuits in federal court in Montgomery late Thursday afternoon. One suit is against BP, the other against Transocean.
In a statement released Friday, King said “their history of saying one thing and doing another, and now, new information that they have been secretly working to gain a legal advantage, can only further damage our people.”
The lawsuit claims “defendants were slow and incompetent, if not dishonest, in their announcements and warnings to the state of Alabama and its citizens and businesses,” referring to the drastic difference in the initial oil flow estimate of 1,000 barrels per day and the latest estimate of as much as 60,000 barrels per day.
The lawsuit, which seeks unspecified money damages plus punitive damages, also references BP’s choice of a “highly toxic chemical used to disperse oil in the ocean.”
The Deepwater Horizon rig exploded on April 20, causing nearly 200 million gallons of oil to gush into the Gulf of Mexico over 87 days before the well was capped last month.
A spokesman for BP declined to comment to the Associated Press.
King filed the lawsuit against the wishes of Gov. Bob Riley, who says the state should pursue an out-of-court settlement first.
Here are some highlights of the charges filed against BP and Transocean by the State of Alabama
1. This action is brought in response to the catastrophic oil disaster that resulted from the explosion on, fire aboard, and subsequent sinking of the Mobile Offshore Drilling Unit Deepwater Horizon (“Deepwater Horizon” or “Oil Rig”) on April 20, 2010 at about 10:00 p.m. central time in the Gulf of Mexico. The Oil Rig had been drilling for oil via a well located on the Macondo Prospect Mississippi Canyon 252 (“MC252″ or “Oil Well”) approximately 100 miles from the Alabama coast. The Oil Rig burned for two days before sinking into the ocean, resulting in the bending and breaking of a riser pipe carrying oil to the ocean surface from approximately 5,000 feet below the sea floor. For approximately 87 days following the explosion on the Deepwater Horizon, an estimated 35,000 to 60,000 barrels of crude oil per day were released from the sinking rig and Oil Well. The oil and the dispersants used to clean the disaster made their way into the waters and onto the land of the State of Alabama. This unprecedented environment disaster, the largest marine oil release in the history of the United States, has caused and will continue to caused extensive economic, environmental, and other damage to the State of Alabama, including by not limited to Dauphin Island, the Port of Mobile, Weeks Bays, Gulf State Parks and the Beaches of Baldwin and Mobile Counties.
14. As the Deepwater Horizon sank, it broke of the long riser pipe carrying oil to the surface of the seafloor leaving the pipe gushing oil out of its open end as well as through two breaks along its length. Although the wellhead was equipped with an emergency blowout preventer (“BOP”) value designed to seal off the well in the event of a sudden pressure release exactly like the one that occurred during the Deepwater Horizon blowout, the BOP failed to activate and seal the well head as it should have, leaving the wellhead spewing oil into the ocean at a rate of up to 2.5 million gallons per day – a rate that is equal to the Exxon Valdez spill about every four days.
15. At the time of this filing, it is currently estimated that approximately 35,000 to 60,000 barrels of oil were released each day into the waters of the Gulf of Mexico from the Oil Rig over a period of 87 days. This oil, as well as other materials and substances including chemical dispersants used in an attempt to clean up the oil, have polluted and damaged the waters, property, estuaries, seabed, animals, plants, beaches, shorelines, coastlines, islands, marshlands, and other natural and economic resources of the State of Alabama. Despite mobilization of private and public efforts, the oil, dispersants and substances have not been cleaned up and continue to migrate into the waters of the State and on the shores of The state. As a result, the oil, dispersants and other materials and substances discharged by the Defendants into the Gulf of Mexico is currently now damaging and will continue to damage for generations to come, the waters, property, estuaries, seabed, animals, plants, beaches, shorelines, coastlines, islands, marshlands, and other natural and economic resources of the State of Alabama.
16. The fire and explosion on the Deepwater Horizon, its sink and the resulting oil disaster werecaused by the combined and concurring negligence or wantonness of Defendants.
17. The injuries and damages suffered by Plaintiff were caused by Defendants’ negligent or wanton failure to adhere to recognized industry standards of care.
18. All Defendants knew of the dangers associated with the deep water drilling operations being conducted on the Deepwater Horizon and negligently and wantonly failed to take appropriate measured to prevent damage to the Plaintiff.
19. According to reports and upon information and belief, BP issued orders that greatly heightened the risk of a “blow-out” disaster and catastrophic oil release. These orders were issued by the Defendants’ managers. The Defendants knew they were operating in a dangerous formation in which extra safety precautions were required, not fewer. The Defendants’ conduct in operating the Deepwater Horizon and Oil Well illustrates their scheme to maximize profits and ignore dangerous risks posed to human health and property. Upon Information and belief, these non-exclusive examples include:
a. Utilizing a defective well casing that was prone to fail when under heavy pressure.
b. Failing to observe dangerous and recurring problems with highly flammable gaseous compounds and instituting risky cementing and drilling procedures hours before the Deepwater Horizon explosion.
c. Failing to institute common industry protective measures necessary to detect the buildup of highly flammable gaseous compounds before and during the cementing process.
d. Accelerating drilling operations in and effort to save money and pressuring employees hours before the Deepwater Horizon explosion to drill and penetrate the continental shelf faster while ignoring risks associated with dangerous gaseous compounds in the shelf’s crust.
e. Continuing to operate the Oil Well without repairing the blowout preventer’s annular after chunks of the annular had broken off and floated to the surface, thereby significantly decreasing the blowout preventer’s protective measures against a blowout.
f. Failing to disclose or correct the fact that the batter on the blowout preventer was weak and one of its control pods was broken.
g. Consciously electing not to install an acoustically activated remote-control shut-off valve.
h. Failing to install a deepwater valve to be placed nearly 200 feet under the seafloor.
i. Ordering drillers to extract drilling mud from the well before all of the concrete plugs were put into place in order to speed up the drilling process thereby creating a high pressure instability in the well.
20. According to representative Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), BP told the House and Energy Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight that the Oil Well that exploded had failed key pressure tests hours before the April 20, 2010 explosion. “Significant pressure discrepancies were observed in at least two of these tests, which were conducted just hours before the explosion,” according to Rep. Waxman, citing documents his committee received from BP.Despite these worrisome pressure readings, Waxman stated “it appears that the companies did not suspend operations and now 11 workers are dead and the Gulf faces an environmental catastrophe“. The Defendants have subsequently admitted responsibility for the oil disaster.
21. The Defendants’ initial response to the Deepwater Horizon disaster was lackluster and only intensified the damage. While the Defendants struggled to develop containment systems on the spot, thousands of barrels of crude oil were gushing into the Gulf of Mexico each day. On May 10, 2010, BP Chief Operating Officer Doug Suttles for the first time publiclyadmitted that the Defendant BP was woefully unprepared to mitigate the damage of the Deepwater Horizon disaster due to its location. Suttles stated, “There’s a lot of techniques available to us. The challenge with all of them is, as you said, they haven’t been done in 5,000 feet of water.”
22. Moreover, the Defendants also failed to institute proper oil disaster response plan to contain the catastrophic oil release resulting from the Deepwater Horizon explosion, andmisrepresented their capability to safely conduct offshore drilling operations and contain oil releases that might occur in connection with such operations. After the oil disaster began, BP Chief Executive Tony Hayward informed that it was “an entirely fair criticism” to say that the company had not been fully prepared for a deepwater oil disaster. He said “What is undoubtedly sure is that we did not have the tools you would want in your tool-kit.”
23. However, upon information and belief, on or about early 2009 BP submitted a paper to the Mineral Management Service in which it stated “[i]n the event of an unanticipated blowout resulting in an oil spill, it is unlikely to have an impact based on the industry wide standards for using proven equipment and technology for such responses, implementation of BP’s Regional Oil Spill Response Plan which addresses available equipment and personnel, techniques for containment and recovery and removal of oil spill.”
24. After the explosion, Defendants attempted to downplay and conceal the severity of the oil disaster. Their original estimate of 1,000 barrels per day was found by government investigators to be a fraction of the actual amount pouring into the Gulf of Mexico each day. The Defendants then raised their estimate to 5,000 barrels per day — which again paled in comparison to the currently estimated 35,000 to 60,000 barrels of oil per day. Moreover,Defendants were slow and incompetent, if not dishonest, in their announcements and warnings to the State of Alabama and its citizens and businesses.
25. The Defendants were negligent and wanton in their attempts to clean-up oil [as it] gushed into Alabama’s waters and shores, including but not limited to, Defendant’s choice of a highly toxic chemical used to disperse oil in the ocean.
Damages to the State of Alabama
26. Defendants have yet to clean up the millions of gallons of oil, dispersants, and other materials and substances discharged into the waters, property, estuaries, seabed, animals, plants, beaches, shorelines, coastlines, islands, marshlands and other natural and economic resources of the State of Alabama and the ultimate amount of damages incurred by the State of Alabama as a result of the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster is not yet ascertainable and shall be established according to proof presented at the trial of this matter. However, damages incurred to date shall include:
FIRST CAUSE OF ACTION
(Negligence, Gross Negligence and/or Wantonness)
31. Defendants, directly or through agents, breached their legal duties to the State by failure to exercise reasonable care and were negligent, grossly negligent, and/or acted with reckless willful, and wanton disregard for the State in the construction, operation, inspection, training of personnel, repair, and maintenance of the Deepwater Horizon and the Oil Well, and in planning and implementing oil containment and prevention activities before and after the Oil Disaster.
32. Upon information and belief the state avers that the fire, explosion, resulting oil disaster and damages were caused by the negligence, gross negligence, recklessness, willfulness and wantonness in the following non-exclusive particulars:
a. Failing to properly operate the Deepwater Horizon and Oil Well.b. Failing to install a remote control acoustic switch to prevent the discharge of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico.
c. Failing to properly inspect the Deepwater Horizon and Oil Well to assure that its equipment and personnel were fit for their intended purposes.
d. Acting in a careless and negligent manner without due regard for the safety of others.
e. Failing to promulgate, implement, follow and enforce procedures, rules and regulations pertaining to the safe operations of the Deepwater Horizon and Oil Well which, if they had been so promulgated, implemented, followed and enforced, would have averted the fire, explosion, sinking, and oil disaster.
f. Operating the Deepwater Horizon and Oil Well with untrained and/or unlicensed personnel.
g. Inadequately and negligently training and/or hiring personnel (Oil Spill Clean Up Workers).
h. Failing to take appropriate action to avoid and/or mitigate the accident.
i. Failing to ascertain that the Deepwater Horizon and Oil Well and associated equipment were free from defects and/or in proper working order.
k. Failing to take reasonable precautions to prevent and timely warn of the failure of the Oil Well or drilling rig.
l. Failing to timely bring the oil release under control.
m. Failing to provide the appropriate accident prevention equipment.
n. Failing to undertake required tests and measurements of the Oil Well and to observe or respond to measuring devices that indicated excessive pressures in the Oil Well.
o. Failing to React to the danger signs of catastrophic Oil Well or drilling rig failure.
p. Using defective BOP’s that were improperly installed, maintained and/or operated.
q. Conducting well and well cap cementing operations improperly.
r. Failing to prepare an adequate oil disaster repose plan.
s. Failing to marshal sufficient resources to adequately respond to the oil disaster and protect the waters, property, estuaries, seabed, animals, plants, beaches, shorelines, coastlines, islands, marshlands and other natural and economic resources of the State of Alabama.
t. Failing to use BOPs appropriate for this drilling operations, and failure to test the BOPs there where used.
u. Failing to follow the plans and specifications applicable to the design and construction of the Oil Well and its components.
v. Failing to use safety devices adequate to arrest the flow of oil in the even of a catastrophic failure of the Oil Well or drilling rig
w. Failing to properly design the Oil Well.
x. Concealing or misrepresenting the nature, size and extent of the oil disaster
y. Using Dangerous chemical dispersants of an incorrect nature, type and amount.
33. The Defendants were also negligent and wanton in their attempts and omissions in trying to plug the Oil Well, contain the oil, and clean-up the oil disaster on Alabama’s waters and shores in the following non-exclusive ways:
c. Administering large quantities of dangerous and toxic chemical dispersants along and around State’s waters and shores after being instructed by the Environmental Protection Agency on “rare” occasions.
d. Delaying approval and implementation of protective measures to the State’s shores and waters in light of the incoming oil slick.
34. Defendants knew or should have known that their negligent, grossly negligent, willful, wanton and/or reckless conduct would result in the oil disaster, causing past, present and future damages to the waters, property, tax base, estuaries, seabed, animals, plants, beaches, shorelines, coastlines, islands, marshlands, and other natural and economic resources of the State of Alabama.
35. The past, present and future injuries to the State were also caused by or aggravated by the fact that the Defendants failed to take necessary actions to mitigate the danger with their operations.
SECOND CAUSE OF ACTION
40. Defendant’s acts or omissions with respect to the explosion, fire and release of the oil, dispersants, and other materials and substances have caused and continue to cause a material, substantial and unreasonable interference with the use and enjoyment of the waters, property, estuaries, seabed, animals, plants, beaches, shorelines, coastlines, islands, marshlands, and other natural and economic resources of the State of Alabama, and have materially diminished and continue to diminish the value thereof.
41. Defendants have trespassed and continue to trespass by allowing oil, dispersants, and other materials to contaminate State Property.
42. As a direct and proximate result of the Defendant’s trespass, the State has suffered past, present, and future loss in the form of, but not limited to, loss of income, the creation of conditions harmful to human health and the environment, the loss of beneficial use, enjoyment and exclusive possession of their property, loss of tax base, and diminished value of State property, for which the State is entitled to be compensated.
THIRD CAUSE OF ACTION
45. The Defendants’ acts and omission with respect to the release of oil, dispersants, and other materials and substances have combined to create a public nuisance that has caused and continues to cause a material, substantial and unreasonable interferencewith the use and enjoyment of the waters, property, estuaries, seabed, animals, plants, beaches, shorelines, coastlines, marshlands, and other natural and economics resources of the State of Alabama.
46. As a direct and proximity result of the Defendants’ creation and continuing creation of a public nuisance, the State and its citizens have suffered past, present and future losses in the form of, but not limited to, loss of income, loss of revenue for the state and a substantial increase in expenditures for the state to combat, abate, and remedy the effects of the nuisance caused by the Defendants.
47. At all times relevant hereto, Defendants have and continue to have a duty and obligation to the State and its citizens to abate the damage, harm, and threatened harm to the State caused by the Defendant’s release of oil, dispersants, and other materials and substances.
48. Such duties and obligations include determining the nature and extent of the past, present and future harm to human, animal, and plant life, and to the other natural resourcescaused by the release of oil, dispersants and other materials and substances andappropriate measures needed to abate such harm and threat of harm to the State and its citizens.
49. The Defendants have failed to perform their duties and obligations as set forth in the preceding paragraph.
50. As a direct and proximate result of the Defendants’ creation and continued creation of a public nuisance and its failure to perform its duties and obligations, the state has suffered and will continue to suffer losses to pay for services to protect the public health and environment on behalf of its citizens, for which the State is entitled to be compensated.
THIRD CAUSE OF ACTION
53. Defendants’ acts and omissions with respect to the release of oil, dispersants and other materials and substances have caused and continue to cause a material, substantial and unreasonable interference with the use and enjoyment of the waters, property, estuaries, seabed, animals, plants, beaches, shorelines, coastlines, islands, marshlands, and other natural and economic resources of the State of Alabama, and have materially diminished and continue to diminish the value thereof.
54. Defendants’ creation and continuing creation of a private nuisance proximately caused past, present and future damages to the State by allowing oil, chemical dispersants and other materials and substances to contaminate State property.
THIRD CAUSE OF ACTION
(Damages Under the Federal Oil Pollution Act of 1990)
60. By virtue of the Defendants’ Gross Negligence or willful misconduct with respect to the acts and omissions alleged in this complaint, all responsible parties under the Federal Oil Pollution Act of 1990 have caused and are liable for the following past, present, and future expenses incurred by or damages to the State compensable under the Act pursuant to 33 U.S.C 2702(b)