Oil Company Employee Indicted For Rendering Safety Systems Inaccurate, Negligent Discharge
NEW ORLEANS – United States Attorney Peter G. Strasser announced that on January 15, 2021 a grand jury indicted BRANDON WALL, age 42, of Ville Platte, Louisiana, for criminal conduct related to oil extraction in the Gulf of Mexico.
According to the Indictment, WALL engaged in criminal conduct on an oil platform known as Grand Isle 43AA (“GI-43AA”). WALL was an area foreman for the area that included GI-43AA. GI-43AA experienced sand buildup problems with its filtration systems. WALL instructed operators that worked on GI-43AA to keep the platform “flowing” instead of shutting it in to repair or replace the filtration systems. WALL also told the operators to bypass the platform’s safety systems, which would have automatically shut-in the platform. Operators on GI-43AA were aware that putting safety systems in bypass made the platform less safe and increased the risk of a pollution event.
The Indictment alleges that GI-43AA was one of most prosperous oil platforms for Company A, the company that employed WALL. In January 2018, GI-43AA discharged oil and other hazardous substances into the Gulf of Mexico. Eventually, WALL informed the appropriate federal agency about the discharge. When the regulators arrived at GI-43AA, they saw a sheen emanating from GI-43AA, indicating that the platform had discharged oil and other hazardous substances.
WALL is charged with 2 Counts. Count 1 of the Indictment, charges WALL with rendering safety systems inaccurate, in violation of Title 43, United States Code, Section 1350(c)(3) and Count 2 charges WALL with negligently discharging oil and other hazardous substances into the Gulf of Mexico, in violation of Title 33, United States Code, Section 1321(b)(3) and 1319(c)(1)(A). If convicted for Counts 1 and 2, WALL faces imprisonment from one to ten years, mandatory special assessment fees ranging from $25 to $100, supervised release ranging from one to three years and fines ranging from not more than $100,000 per violation (Count 1) and $2,500 to $25,000 per day of violation (Count 2) .
United States Attorney Strasser stated that an Indictment is merely an accusation and that the guilt of the defendant must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
United States Attorney Strasser praised the work of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of the Interior Office of Inspector General, Energy Investigations Unit, in investigating this matter. Assistant United States Attorneys Spiro G. Latsis and J. Ryan McLaren are in charge of the prosecution.
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