An environmental rights group sued the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management on Wednesday for allegedly failing to review decades-old plans for offshore oil rigs near Huntington Beach.
The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Los Angeles by the Center for Biological Diversity, comes a year after a major oil spill linked to Platform Elly in the area caused significant damage to wildlife and beaches.
The filing alleges that the BOEM allowed Platform Elly and other Beta oilfield platforms to continue operating while relying on drilling and safety plans that were drafted and approved in the 1970s. and 1980.
“These outdated plans fail to take into account the rapidly aging oil industry infrastructure off the coast of California,” said Kristen Monsell, legal director of the center’s oceans program. “With these platforms decaying, we are rolling the dice every day. Our coastal communities and wildlife cannot afford to wait for the next disastrous oil spill while the federal government does nothing. It’s time to remove these rusty relics from our ocean.
A BOEM representative said the agency does not comment on ongoing litigation.
Last October’s spill was one of the largest in California in years, releasing thousands of gallons of oil into the Pacific Ocean and covering more than 8,000 acres. Beaches were closed for days, and the oil killed or injured thousands of birds and other sea life and led to costly cleanup efforts. The source was a damaged pipeline connecting Platform Elly to Long Beach.
Under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, the BOEM has a duty to review and revise drilling plans based on new information or changes in operations, according to the center.
The purpose of this requirement is to ensure that offshore drilling operations do not cause serious harm to the environment or life – including wildlife – or jeopardize national security.
The Beta field rigs were supposed to be taken out of service more than a decade ago, but drilling has continued. Despite the discovery of a slew of relevant new information — including security breaches, advanced oil spill risk analysis and increased shipping traffic in the region — federal regulators have not demanded releases. updates to the plans, the center alleges in the lawsuit.
“There is too much at stake for Biden officials to ignore these ticking time bombs any longer,” Monsell said. “As long as offshore drilling continues in the Beta field, the next oil spill is a matter of when, not if, and we have seen the dire consequences before. Our marine life and bathers deserve to see these rigs removed.
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