Justice Department files civil suit against ATP

atp innovatorFEBRUARY 12, 2013 — The United States yesterday filed a civil action in the District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana against ATP Oil & Gas Corporation and ATP Infrastructure Partners, LP (ATP-IP). The suit seeks 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).

ATP Oil & Gas Corporation has been in Chapter 11 protection since filing a voluntary petition for reorganization  in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Texas on August 17, 2012.  ATP said it had taken the action in order to undertake a comprehensive financial restructuring resulting from debts incurred primarily as a result of the offshore drilling moratorium imposed by the United States government.

The Justice Department complaint addresses the defendants’ alleged unlawful discharges of oil and unpermitted chemical dispersants from its floating oil and gas production platform, the ATP Innovator, into the Gulf of Mexico.

Converted from a semisubmersible offshore rig, 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 Department of Justice says 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.  

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.
Read the Complaint HERE

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