Settlement over decade-old Gulf oil leak filed in court

Associated Press

Environmental groups signed a settlement agreement Thursday to resolve their lawsuit against a New Orleans company that has failed to end a decade-old oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico.

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Environmental groups signed a settlement agreement Thursday to resolve their lawsuit against a New Orleans company that has failed to end a decade-old oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico.

Taylor Energy Company announced details of the pact in a news release last week, but the agreement wasn't finalized and filed in federal court until Thursday.

The New York-based Waterkeeper Alliance says the company will release more information about its efforts to stop oil from leaking at the site where one of its offshore platforms toppled during Hurricane Ivan in 2004. The agreement calls for holding a public meeting on the causes of the leak and the company's government-supervised response work.

Taylor Energy also agreed to donate $300,000 to a Louisiana marine research consortium and pay an additional $100,000 for research on the ecological effects of Gulf oil pollution.

The Waterkeeper Alliance sued the company in 2012 over its secretive response. In April, an Associated Press investigation revealed evidence that the leak is worse than the company or the federal government has publicly reported.

Federal regulators recently estimated that the leak could last a century or more if left unchecked.

"It does amaze me," Waterkeeper Alliance president Robert F. Kennedy Jr. said of that estimate. "But it's an important variable for the public and for the regulators to understand because it contradicts what the industry as a whole is saying about the safety of deepwater drilling."

Taylor Energy president William Pecue said in a statement last week that the company is proud of its response efforts. Kennedy, however, said the company's work has been "an inadequate Band-Aid repair job."

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