A Coast Guard mandate has finally been issued to plug an oil leak off the coast of Louisiana. The destroyed Taylor Energy platform, MC-20 Saratoga, has been leaking since Hurricane Ivan which struck the Gulf Coast in 2004. The leak releases between 11,000 and 29,000 gallons of oil each day, which has been catastrophic. Measured across the fourteen years that the rig has been damaged, the spill could total 148 million gallons of oil or more.
Though Taylor Energy Company is no longer an active oil supplier—according to records, they have one remaining employee—they have been ordered by the Coast Guard to establish a containment plan including a potential contractor. The leak was initially discovered in 2010 when researches were conducting evaluations of the Deepwater Horizon spill and noticed a sheen on the water that could not have been caused by that disaster. Further research was then conducted as to an alternate cause, and the result was the detection of the Taylor Energy leak.
Last week’s Coast Guard order states that Taylor’s containment plan must “eliminate the surface sheen and avoid the deficiencies associated with prior containment systems.” Failure to comply with the order will result in a fine of $40,000 per day. Naturally, the energy company is disputing the order, claiming that the sheen on the water’s surface is not a result of an ongoing oil leak. Instead, they say, the sheen is a result of the oil-saturated seafloor that unavoidably releases oil and gas bubbles, and thus, the oil wells are no longer actively leaking.
According to Taylor’s calculations, full containment of the oil leak could cost up to $1 billion. However, if no measures are taken to stop the leak, the amount of total oil spilled could surpass that of the Deepwater Horizon spill in just two and a half years. Though no legal action has been taken towards the oil company apart from a 2012 suit that ultimately settled, environmental activists are calling for further litigation against Taylor Energy and other oil suppliers for further transparency and accountability surrounding their companies’ practices.
When it comes to coastal litigation, the attorneys of Broussard, David & Moroux have the skills and experience necessary to hold at-fault parties fully responsible for damage caused to the environment, particularly Louisiana’s precious ecosystem. Contact the attorneys at Broussard, David & Moroux to discuss your legal rights at (337) 233-2323 (local) or (888) 337-2323 (toll-free).