Oil Rig Worker Claims He Was Fired for Trying to Report Illegal, Toxic Dumping
NEW ORLEANS (CN) - ENSCO, the world's second-largest offshore driller, fired a man for trying to report it had dumped thousands of gallons of toxic chemicals into the Caribbean Sea, at the direction of management, the worker claims in court.
Jason Thieles sued ENSCO plc, in Federal Court.
ENSCO's is the "world's second largest offshore driller," according to its home Web page. ENSCO says it works on six continents as "a global provider of offshore drilling services to the petroleum industry."
In the lawsuit, Thieles says he was working on an ENSCO drilling rig off the coast of Trinidad in October 2010 when he saw co-workers dump thousands of gallons of chemicals into the sea.
"The violations included the dumping of numerous chemicals into the ocean, including oil, hydraulic fluids, diesel fuels, contaminated mud and other pollutants from the skimmer tank and possibly other areas from the drilling rig," the complaint states.
"These violations were videotaped by Mr. Thieles and the video appears to include the dumping of hundreds and thousands of gallons of material as described above. Mr. Thieles later discovered that the material was dumped at the instruction of ENSCO management."
Thieles claims that ENSCO managers "were well aware of these violations."
One boss, nonparty Tony Latiolias, "was aware that the violations had been videotaped by Mr. Thieles and that Mr. Thieles was in possession of such video evidence," according to the lawsuit.
It continues: "Mr. Thieles expressed his concerned to Mr. Latiolias and he was told to 'forget about it,' and, 'don't worry about it.' When Mr. Thieles reiterated his concern and further suggested that he or someone at ENSCO report the violations to the appropriate authorities, he was terminated."
ENSCO contracts out its deepwater drilling rigs and other vessels to major oil and gas producers.
ENSCO did not immediately reply to a request for comment.
Thieles seeks damages for whistleblower violations and wrongful termination, punitive damages for wantonness and outrage, and $5,700 in wages owed.
He is represented by Richard Fewell Jr., of West Monroe, La.