By Wendy Laursen 2015-10-11 16:09:29
A Louisiana Indian tribe has filed a lawsuit against BP, Transocean and Halliburton over the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill, arguing the company is liable for damage to the tribe’s cultural and natural resources.
The Pointe-au-Chien Indian Tribe sued BP last Thursday in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana.
New Orleans attorney, Joel Waltzer, representing the tribe, says that the tribe opted to not accept the compensation offered by BP which he says amounted to less than $75,000.
“The spilled oil directly impacted vast portions of the Gulf of Mexico coastline, including (the tribe’s) aboriginal lands,” tribal chiefs Charles Verdin and Donald Dardar alleged in the lawsuit, reports Houma Today. “These are lands historically occupied by tribal members and ancestors, and include tribal cemeteries, sacred sites, Indian mounds, archaeological sites, village sites, shell middens and traditional fisheries.”
The tribe lives in the wetlands of southern Louisiana and depends on its fishing industry in the Gulf of Mexio. Some claim that fins numbers have dwindled and that catches now include deformed fish. The local shrimp industry has also been affected.
More than six square miles, or about 3,840 acres, of coastal land, shorelines and water bottoms were directly damaged by oiling and other contaminants, the suit says.
The move coincides with the announcement last week that BP will pay more than $20 billion in fines to resolve nearly all claims from the tragedy, marking the largest corporate settlement of its kind in U.S. history, Attorney General Loretta Lynch said last week.
The agreement, first outlined in July, adds to the $43.8 billion BP had previously set aside for criminal and civil penalties and cleanup costs. The company has said its total pre-tax charge for the spill is now around $53.8 billion.
The fines – to be paid to the federal government, five Gulf Coast states and hundreds of municipalities over 18 years – will fund environmental restoration and economic development programs to address the worst offshore spill in U.S. history.
“This agreement will launch one of the largest environmental restoration efforts the world has ever seen,” Lynch said.
The spill fouled 1,300 miles of coastline and dumped more than three million barrels of crude into the sea, hurting fishermen and prompting overhauls of safety rules and emergency plans in one of the world’s most prolific offshore oil basins.
The core of the agreement includes $7.1 billion for natural resource damages, $5.5 billion for Clean Water Act fines, and $4.9 billion in payments to states.
The Macondo well blowout and the fire on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig on April 20, 2010 killed 11 workers.
This 2014 documentary from Five.TV describes the tragedy.