Epicenter of Gulf Oil Spill Confronts BP


     NEW ORLEANS (CN) - Plaquemines Parish, the "epicenter" of the BP oil spill, sued the company in Federal Court, claiming BP has not paid a single one of its claims for damages arising from the worst oil spill in history.
     Plaquemines Parish "was the epicenter of the damage and clean-up operations following the blowout, explosion and sinking of the Deepwater Horizon," the parish says in its complaint. A parish is Louisiana's equivalent of other states' counties.
     Plaquemines Parish is the long tongue of land and water that extends into the Gulf of Mexico south of New Orleans.
     The parish says it has complied with all terms for compensation from BP under the Oil Pollution Act (OPA).
     Yet, "despite filing a presentment of claims under OPA, and despite numerous attempts by parish representatives to resolve those claims amicably through BP's 'Government Entity Claims Team,' BP has failed to counter or formally respond to a single one of these claims," the complaint states.
     The catastrophe, which began with the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig on April 20, 2010, "caused massive, pervasive, temporary, permanent damage to coastal property owned and controlled by PPG [Plaquemines Parish]; the reduction of parish tax revenues; direct and indirect damage to wetland properties; the necessity for long-term coastal monitoring to predict, prevent and intervene in future re-contamination of wetland properties; the added increased cost of ongoing and planned coastal restoration projects; the increased administrative costs for caring for mental and physical effects of the spill on Plaquemines populous; the need to market the parish to mitigate the loss of tourism and to reverse stigma damages; and the investigative costs necessary to survey, assess and compile the harm caused by BP," the complaint states.
     The parish adds: "Continuing through today and into the foreseeable future, the chain of events which culminated in the blowout and explosion aboard the Deepwater Horizon, caused extensive and pervasive damage to one of the most sensitive and vital estuaries in the world. The wildlife in the parish is dependent upon the marine estuaries for proliferation and propagation and so too are the residents and the economy of Plaquemines Parish. In fact, PPG's dependency upon its natural resources for its economic viability is unmatched in Louisiana. By BP's own accounts, over 44,000 acres of parish owned wetlands and beaches were directly impacted by oiling caused by BP. Documented oil mats lay off the coast of the parish causing re-oiling of marshes with each new storm. The parish has suffered and will continue to suffer economic damages in the form of past and future lost revenues, lost business opportunities, diminution in asset values, loss and damage to wetlands, costs of coastal monitoring, increased costs of coastal projects due to delay and damage to wetlands, increased administrative medical and psychiatric costs, administrative costs for BP's use of parish facilities, administrative costs of PPG in response to the disaster, wear and tear on parish infrastructure, costs to implement marking campaign to reverse stigma damages and investigative costs in preparing the presentment to BP and all other damages set forth and categorized in PPG's October 30, 2012 presentment to BP."
     The parish seeks compensatory and punitive damages, civil and criminal penalties and attorneys' fees.
     It is represented by Scott Bickford with Martzell & Bickford of New Orleans.