Pollution caused by unauthorized offshore oil activity can be in violation of multiple forms of legislation and require extensive corrective measures. The Houston Chronicle recently reported on a legal action involving ATP Infrastructure, which has been found in violation of the Clean Water Act for dumping hazardous material into the Gulf of Mexico. As a result, it will pay $1 million in fines to the United States.
The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement claims that the company acted deliberately and attempted to cover its tracks by using the chemical Cleartron ZB-103 to hide evidence of the illegal pollution.
The charges date back more than two years and pertain specifically to the ATP Innovator platform being operated off of the coast of Louisiana, though it has since been taken back into port. Even though ATP later filed for bankruptcy, it has still agreed to pay this fine.
An article in the Maritime Executive quotes the Environmental Protection Agency's Cynthia Giles on the need to protect sensitive underwater environments. The company was also reportedly targeted under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act.
"EPA and its federal partners are committed to ensuring that offshore energy production is done safely and responsibly," she said. "Discharging oil illegally can foul water, harm wildlife and is unfair to companies that follow the law. It is our obligation to protect local communities and companies playing by the rules."
The decisions that businesses make when they set up their drilling platforms could resonate long after operations cease. Because of this, companies need to purchase oilfield insurance that accounts for major pieces of maritime law.