DOJ Announces Oil Spill Settlement

The government's complaint was filed in February 2013 in a Louisiana federal court, alleging that oil and an unauthorized chemical dispersant were discharged into the Gulf of Mexico from ATP-IP's oil and gas production platform called the ATP Innovator.

ATP Infrastructure Partners LP has reached a settlement calling for it to pay a $1 million civil penalty and perform corrective measures to resolve claims under the Clean Water Act and the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act about unauthorized discharges of oil and chemicals from an oil platform into the Gulf of Mexico, the U.S. Department of Justice, the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, and EPA announced Oct. 16. Their announcement said this is the first joint judicial enforcement action involving BSEE and EPA claims about violations of both the Clean Water Act and OCSLA.

The government's complaint was filed in February 2013 in a Louisiana federal court, alleging that oil and an unauthorized chemical dispersant were discharged into the Gulf of Mexico from ATP-IP's oil and gas production platform called the ATP Innovator. The announcement said a "BSEE inspection of the ATP Innovator in 2012 revealed alleged unlawful discharges of oil and a piping configuration that routed an unpermitted chemical dispersant into the facility's wastewater discharge pipe to mask excess oil being discharged into the ocean. At the time of the discovery, ATP Oil & Gas Corporation (ATP) was the operator of the facility, and ATP-IP was, and remains, the owner. The ATP Innovator was operating in the Mississippi Canyon, approximately 45 nautical miles offshore of southeastern Louisiana. Earlier this year, the ATP Innovator was removed from the deepwater production site and towed to port in Corpus Christi."

"The Justice Department is committed to protecting public health and marine ecosystems like the gulf from unlawful and unsafe practices," said Sam Hirsch, acting assistant attorney general for the Justice Department's Environment and Natural Resources Division. "This joint enforcement action demonstrates our resolve to hold non-operating owners of oil production facilities and their operators accountable for unlawful discharges from their facilities, and will result in important steps to help prevent future unlawful discharges of oil and chemicals from the ATP facility."

"Our mission is to ensure offshore operations are conducted safely and in accordance with federal regulations to protect workers and the environment," said BSEE Director Brian Salerno. "When violations occur, we will exercise our full authority, and leverage the authorities of our sister agencies, to hold companies accountable. We appreciate the EPA’s and the Justice Department’s assistance in bringing these claims to resolution."

The proposed consent decree is subject to a 30-day public comment period and court review and approval. A copy of the consent decree is available on the Department of Justice website at www.justice.gov/enrd/Consent_Decrees.html.

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