Meridian Star

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September 21, 2013

BP: State can't order removal of anchors

NEW ORLEANS —

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — BP has filed a federal lawsuit against Louisiana authorities over an August order that the oil giant remove anchors that were placed in the Gulf of Mexico following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster.

The boom had been placed in Gulf waters in an attempt to keep oil away from the coast.

The oil giant says that when it placed the boom anchors throughout the Gulf, it did so under federal supervision. The lawsuit says some anchors have been removed, but that federal officials want the remaining anchors left alone because removing them could cause environmental damage.

"In short, BP respectfully submits it cannot be punished under state law for doing what federal law requires," the lawsuit, filed Thursday in the federal court based in Baton Rouge, states.

BP asks the court to keep the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources from enforcing the order for removal of the anchors.

DNR Secretary Stephen Chustz issued a statement Thursday evening, saying the anchors need to be removed and that the state does have the authority to order their removal.

"These anchors are abandoned, serve no purpose in the cleanup efforts now and are hazards to navigation and boaters," the statement said. "Because of these public safety threats, DNR ordered BP to remove the anchors based upon authority granted to the agency under the Coastal Resource Management Act."

BP argues that DNR is citing a state law that is superseded by federal law.

The anchors have been a concern for years. In January 2011, the Coast Guard began testing ways to remove the anchors by having salvage crews place anchors in specific places, then test ways of locating and removing them. The problem, officials said at the time, was that attempting to remove anchors with hooks or trawls would run the risk of breaking a pipeline or causing massive erosion.

"After a series of thorough studies, the U.S. Coast Guard determined that those anchors should not be removed because doing so poses an unacceptable risk to the environment," BP spokesman Geoff Morrell said in a news release Thursday.

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