Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Monday, October 16, 2006

ConocoPhillips settles with the feds

They decided it'd be better to pay up then fight a losing battle in court to duck responsibility for the disastrous Dalco oil spill:
In a settlement reached Monday with the U.S. Justice Department, ConocoPhillips will pay more than $2.3 million in costs and penalties for a 2004 incident that spilled more than 1,000 gallons of crude oil in Puget Sound's Dalco Passage.

The agreement with the company, and its wholly owned subsidiary, Polar Tankers, was reached following an extensive investigation by the U.S Coast Guard and the state Ecology Department following the Oct. 13, 2004 spill. The investigation found that the tanker Polar Texas released the oil as it took on ballast while departing Commencement Bay.

The spill went unnoticed until the following morning when the captain of a tug boat reported oil in the water south of Vashon and Maury islands. Although state law requires the offending vessel to report and participate in the cleanup, the Polar Texas did neither, the Coast Guard said yesterday in a press release.

The $2,233,293.94 in pollution removal costs under the federal Oil Pollution Act of 1990 represents 100 percent of all costs the federal government incurred during cleanup operations in Dalco Passage. The federal and state government's claims against ConocoPhillips for injuries to natural resources, however, have not been resolved and are not included in the total.

ConocoPhillips, however, also will pay an $80,000 civil penalty under the federal Clean Water Act. Last Friday, the state Ecology Department settled a $540,000 claim against the oil corporation under state law.
I wrote last Friday that Conoco should be on the hook for the entire cost of the cleanup, not just part of it, and that the company deserves to be fined (heavily) for the huge mess that it created. Taxpayers simply should not be forced to pay for the mistakes of mega conglomerates like ConocoPhillips.

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