Yesterday, a federal judge said New Orleans-based advocacy group Healthy Gulf may intervene in a lawsuit defending the U.S. Coast Guard’s actions to contain the ongoing Taylor Energy oil spill that has been leaking off the coast of Louisiana for over 14 years. Earthjustice, a non-profit environmental law organization, is representing Healthy Gulf in the lawsuit.
Collapsed wells at Taylor Energy’s drilling site approximately 15 miles off the southeast Louisiana coast have been discharging oil into the Gulf of Mexico since 2004, when Hurricane Ivan caused the company’s oil platform to topple and sink. Neither Taylor nor the federal government had undertaken comprehensive containment or control measures until October 2018, when the U.S. Coast Guard ordered Taylor to propose a plan to immediately contain the ongoing oil release. When Taylor failed to comply with the order, the Coast Guard took over the response and contracted with a remediation company to work quickly towards capping the spill. Taylor is seeking to reverse that order in federal court. Taylor’s lawsuit seeks to bar any work by the federal government or its contractor on the spill response, effectively asking the court to allow its oil spill to continue indefinitely.
On Tuesday, the Coast Guard submitted a status update to the judge stating that its containment system is now fully installed and operational and the spill is almost fully contained. The containment device has already captured 30,000 gallons of oil.
“After 14 years, we are glad the Coast Guard is taking action to contain this runaway oil spill,” said Dustin Renaud, communications director for Healthy Gulf. “Now we must make sure that they follow through on a permanent solution and ensure a spill like this never goes unchecked again. Rather than relying on industry self-reporting in the future, we must employ independent science and hold companies accountable to the law.”
“It’s good news from the Coast Guard that the containment device appears to be working despite Taylor Energy’s efforts to allow this disaster to continue to unfold in the Gulf of Mexico,” said Brettny Hardy, attorney from Earthjustice. “Now that Healthy Gulf is a party in the litigation, we will keep the pressure on to ensure the containment is complete and effective in putting an end to the longest oil spill in American history.”
Healthy Gulf and its partner organizations discovered the existence of the Taylor Energy spill by chance in 2010 when out on a monitoring mission for the Deepwater Horizon spill. Since then, the organization has repeatedly asked the federal government to hold Taylor accountable and stem the uncontrolled flow of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. Now that the government has finally taken such action, Healthy Gulf is moving to help defend that action and ensure that remediation of the Taylor spill is taken and that a long term plan is in place to stop the release of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.
Maggie Caldwell, Earthjustice, (415) 217-2084