Image by Paul Brennan from Pixabay

A dredging company caused an oil spill and are paying the fine while oil is doing all they can to not pay fines. What is wrong with this picture? Of course this is at the federal level and not the state level.

The largest dredging company in the United States pleaded guilty Wednesday to federal charges for causing a 2016 oil spill while rebuilding one of Louisiana’s barrier islands. The Houston-based Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Co. LLC agreed to pay $1 million for its Clean Water and Pipeline Safety acts violations and to deposit another $2 million for a judge to disburse to victims. Charges came after a James Tassin, a local equipment operator, said the company directed him to cover up evidence and withhold information about the incident. Tassin operated the marsh buggy that cut the oil pipeline, and he pleaded guilty in March to a misdemeanor in exchange for cooperating with the government against Great Lakes. Great Lakes employees failed to alert the pipeline’s owners of their work, instructed Tassin to operate the marsh buggy near those lines and told him not to tell anyone that he had dug near the site of the spill, according to court records. “The defendant in this case recklessly violated regulations designed to protect the environment and then tried to hide its actions,” said Christopher Brooks, special agent in charge of the Environmental Protection Agency’s criminal enforcement program in Louisiana. “Today’s guilty plea demonstrates that we will hold violators responsible for breaking our environmental laws.”

Great Lakes admitted guild noting there was negligent supervision. The spill into Barataria Bay occurred on Sept. 5, 2016, when the company was restoring Chenier Ronquille, an island east of Grand Isle. NOAA was overseeing the work at a cost of $36 million partially funded by monies from the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Great Lakes has done other work in Louisiana and normally dredges up sand from offshore and then brings it back to the shore to help build up headlands and nourish the islands.

Oil and natural gas infrastructure litter the work sites of many coastal restoration projects, creating a challenge for the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority. Plans to rebuild East Timbalier Island were abandoned after damage from oil and gas infrastructure made it too expensive and dangerous for restoration work.

Dredges are in short supply and that is raising costs. Also Great Lakes allegedly covered up the spill and the worker was brought up on federal charges not state ones.

Oil pays not fines but dredging does?
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