US Files Lawsuit in Louisiana Against Oil and Gas Company Alleging Unlawful Discharge of Oil and Chemical Dispersants in the Gulf of Mexico
Today the United States filed a civil action against ATP Oil & Gas Corporation and ATP Infrastructure Partners, LP (ATP-IP) for civil penalties and injunctive relief under the Clean Water Act and the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act. The complaint was filed on behalf of the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The complaint addresses the defendants’ alleged unlawful discharges of oil and unpermitted chemical dispersants from the defendants’ floating oil and gas production platform, the ATP Innovator, into the Gulf of Mexico.
The ATP Innovator is a production facility operating at Lease Block 711 of Mississippi Canyon in the Gulf of Mexico, approximately 45 nautical miles offshore of southeastern Louisiana.
The violations were discovered during a BSEE inspection of the facility in March 2012. Following further investigation by BSEE, the violations were referred to the Department of Justice by BSEE and EPA. The case, United States v. ATP Oil & Gas Corporation et al., was filed in the District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana.
As alleged in the complaint, ATP failed to properly operate and maintain its wastewater treatment system on the ATP Innovator. As a result, excess oil was discharged into the ocean, and an unauthorized chemical dispersant was added to the oily wastewater discharge to mask the presence of oil on the ocean’s surface. The dispersant was added to the outfall pipe by way of a concealed metal tube that connected a tank of dispersant to the outfall pipe. The connection of the metal tubing to the outfall pipe was located downstream of the sample collection point, making the addition of unauthorized dispersant undetectable in samples that are required to be collected to show compliance with ATP’s Clean Water Act discharge permit.
According to the complaint, the dispersant had been used from at least October 2010 to March 2012. In addition to civil penalties under the Clean Water Act, the complaint also seeks injunctive relief for violations of the Clean Water Act and the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act.