Hearing set in ex-BP engineer's obstruction case

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A former BP engineer is returning to federal court as he seeks to undo his obstruction of justice conviction in the government's investigation of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster.

Kurt Mix was found guilty in December of one count of obstructing justice for deleting a string of text messages in what prosecutors say was an effort to hamper the government's criminal investigation of the deadly 2010 explosion and spill.

In a Thursday hearing, his lawyers will ask a judge to consider motions to either declare Mix not guilty or grant him a new trial.


Barbier says no to BP request for spill payment halt


U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier issued a three-sentence ruling Tuesday rejecting BP's request to temporarily halt payments from its $9.2 billion Gulf spill settlement, Bloomberg reports.


ND officials: Cache of illegal oil field waste found

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — Officials in North Dakota are reporting what may be the state's biggest incident of illegal dumping of radioactive oil filter socks, the nets that strain liquids in the oil production process.

State Waste Management Director Scott Radig said hundreds of the tubular filters were discovered last week in an abandoned building in Noonan, a town of about 200 people in northwestern North Dakota. Radig, who viewed pictures of the scene, said it's likely to be more than twice as large as the state's next-largest dumping incident found last month in McKenzie County.

"It appears, unfortunately, to be the biggest one we've found," Radig said. "And it appears to have been there for quite some time."


Phillips 66 fined $230K for SF Bay air violations

RODEO, Calif. (AP) — Phillips 66 Co. has been fined $230,900 by San Francisco Bay Area air quality officials for numerous air pollution violations.

The Bay Area Air Quality Management District says the settlement covers 19 violations from 2008 and 2009.

Among the violations the company was cited for failing to take flare-gas samples, inadequate measurement of flare gas flows and inaccurate ground level monitoring of hydrogen sulfide.


Nearly 150 illegal oil waste dumps in North Dakota

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — People have been caught nearly 150 times in the past year attempting to illegally dump loads of oil field waste — much of it radioactive — at two of the biggest landfills in western North Dakota, records obtained Wednesday by The Associated Press show. None of the incidents resulted in fines or other sanctions from the state, and the most regulators required was that offenders promise to properly dispose of the waste, officials said.

"The state has no idea where this stuff is and what's happening to it," said Darrell Dorgan, a member of the North Dakota Energy Industry Waste Coalition, a newly formed watchdog group that is attempting to document illegal oilfield waste dumping. "It's being scattered all across western North Dakota."


Pennsylvania wants $2.3M penalty for Sunoco leak

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

A 12,000 gallon gasoline spill from a leaking pipeline in western Pennsylvania could end up costing Sunoco $2.3 million, the amount the state's Department of Environmental Protection is seeking in penalties, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports.


Fla. sues BP over oil spill environmental damage

MIAMI (AP) — Florida has joined a multistate lawsuit stemming from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, seeking to hold British oil company BP accountable for damage to the state's natural resources.

The complaint was filed Wednesday in Panama City federal court by the state's secretary of environmental protection and the head of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. It is separate from a lawsuit Florida's attorney general filed against BP last year over economic losses related to the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history.


Parnell says Flint Hills liable for contamination

Fairbanks Daily News-Miner

Flint Hills Resources will be held responsible for groundwater contamination from the North Pole refinery that it plans to shut, but any new buyer would be off the hook, according to a letter Alaska Governor Sean Parnell wrote to the company, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports.


Appeals panel rules BP spill claims don't need direct harm

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A federal appeals panel ruled Monday that businesses don't have to prove that they were directly harmed by BP's 2010 Gulf Of Mexico oil spill to collect settlement payments.

The ruling could clear the way for payments to resume from a settlement administrator after they were frozen.

By a 2-1 vote, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans upheld a Dec. 24 ruling by U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier in New Orleans. Barbier ruled that BP had agreed to pay claims without requiring strict proof that losses were directly caused by the oil spill, and that the company's arguments didn't allow it to get out of the settlement it agreed to.


Sea otters declared recovered following 1989 Exxon Valdez spill

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A federal agency said sea otters in Alaska's Prince William Sound have recovered to levels seen before the Exxon Valdez oil spill.

A U.S. Geological Survey study released Friday said crude oil that remained contributed to sea otter deaths and lower population numbers.

A lesson to take away, said research scientist Brenda Ballachey, is that the chronic effects of oil in the environment can persist for decades.


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