On top of the 100 lawsuits already filed against British Petroleum, Transocean, Halliburton and Cameron, Inc., the Sierra Club and Gulf Restoration Network have filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Interior’s Mineral Management Service (MMS). The lawsuit asserts that MMS contributed to the disaster because of lax enforcement of existing regulations.
MMS waived several safety regulations regarding oil exploration in the Gulf of Mexico, according to the lawsuit. The organization allegedly did not insist on documentation that required companies to explain their plan to handle a “worst-case scenario.” The lawsuit notes that federal law calls for this documentation before any approval of exploratory offshore drilling.
MMS issued the wavier in 2008 with validity through 2013. It excuses the oil companies that have drilling operations in the Gulf of Mexico from presenting their blowout scenarios and response plans.
In the meantime, several Louisiana coastal parishes have filed lawsuits against BP, seeking compensation for harm to wildlife caused by the oil spill. St. Tammany and Terrebonne Parish filed the initial lawsuits and other parishes have their own legal actions under consideration. The state Conservation Fund and the district attorney’s office would split any money received from the lawsuits.
In an unrelated lawsuit, a former BP subcontractor and an environmental group want to force BP to close down its Atlantis oil platform, which operates in 7,070 feet of water about 150 miles south of New Orleans. This rig has a daily production of 8.4 million gallons of oil and 180 million cubic feet of natural gas. Referring to BP documents, the petitioners assert that a blowout at the Atlantis would surpass the disaster at the Deepwater Horizon. The lawsuit contends that the Atlantis has inaccurate and insufficient engineering documents, which are required for safe operation. The plaintiffs want the oil platform closed until BP produces the appropriate documentation.
The former BP contractor voiced his complaints last year, according to the Associated Press and the Wall Street Journal. BP hired an independent firm in 2009 to investigate the complaints. They discovered that BP violated its own policies by not having complete engineering documents on the Atlantis when operations began in 2007.
Even though BP has already paid claims to businesses and people harmed by the oil spill, these amounts could be miniscule compared to the major class-action cases that involve thousands of plaintiffs in Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, Florida and Texas. These plaintiffs include fishermen, shrimpers, seafood processors, restaurants, hotels for tourists and property owners. Most of these businesses have suspended their operations since the oil spill. They will lose money and possibly face the permanent loss of their livelihood.
If you own or operate property or a business that has been affected by the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, contact Newsome Law Firm and fill out a case evaluation form today. Our team of attorneys has experience specific to complications associated with environmental disasters. Not only can they give you the legal guidance you need, they can help you get the compensation you deserve.