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Deepwater Horizon

February 26, 2012 | By Richard Fausset
The massive civil lawsuit stemming from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, originally scheduled to go to trial Monday in New Orleans, has been postponed for one week to give oil giant BP and lawyers for more than 120,000 plaintiffs time to continue settlement talks. The postponement of the start of the trial to March 5 was announced in a joint statement Sunday from BP, which was in charge of the drilling project, and the group of plaintiffs' attorneys known as the Plaintiffs' Steering Committee, or PSC. "BP and the PSC are working to reach agreement to fairly compensate people and businesses affected by the Deepwater Horizon accident and oil spill," the statement read.
February 17, 2012 | By Neela Banerjee, Washington Bureau
A minority investor in the failed Macondo well in the Gulf of Mexico has agreed to pay $90 million in civil penalties and other fees related to the 2010 oil spill, the first settlement before an upcoming major trial linked to the disaster. The Obama administration touted the settlement with MOEX Offshore 2007, a subsidiary of the Japanese firm Mitsui & Co., as the largest penalty ever paid for violating the Clean Water Act. "This landmark settlement is an important step - but only a first step - toward achieving accountability and protecting the future of the gulf ecosystem by funding critical habitat preservation projects," Atty.
February 17, 2012 | By Richard Fausset
An undetermined amount of oil spilled into the Mississippi River early Friday morning near New Orleans after an oil barge collided with another vessel, according to the U.S. Coast Guard. Many of the details of the accident were not available early Friday morning. Coast Guard Petty Officer Elizabeth Bordelon said that a five-mile stretch of the Mississippi about 50 miles upriver from New Orleans had been closed to river traffic as pollution investigators and other officials responded.
January 14, 2012 | By Jim Puzzanghera, Los Angeles Times
Toyota Motor Corp. and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. were among the biggest gainers in brand image last year after a rough 2010 that saw each of them enmeshed in controversy, according to rankings by online market research firm, YouGov. Toyota's image had been pummeled in 2010 from more than 13 million product recalls in the U.S. related to sudden acceleration, said YouGov, a British firm that tracks brand perception daily. A Los Angeles Times series helped draw attention to Toyota's problems, which led to congressional hearings.
January 10, 2012 | By Richard G. Steiner
As the 2010 Deepwater Horizon tragedy fades from public concern, its painful lessons seem to have been lost as well. A year ago this week, the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling issued its final report, recommending sweeping changes in the way industry and government manage offshore oil drilling. The bipartisan panel made 30 broad recommendations aimed at improving the safety of offshore drilling, safeguarding the environment, strengthening oil spill response, advancing well containment capabilities and ensuring financial responsibility.
January 9, 2012 | By Bettina Boxall
New research suggests that oil and gas belching from BP's blown-out well during the Deepwater Horizon disaster disappeared more quickly than expected because of the northern Gulf of Mexico's geography. The deep-sea blowout, which produced the largest offshore spill in the nation's history, occurred off the coast of Louisiana in a portion of the gulf that is almost enclosed on three sides. That influenced water movement in a way that boosted bacterial consumption of the leaking oil and methane gas, according to a study that will be published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.  “When the hydrocarbons were released from the well, bacteria bloomed,” said the paper's lead author, UC Santa Barbara geochemist David Valentine.  “In other locations, those blooms would be swept away by prevailing ocean currents, but in the Gulf of Mexico, they swirled around at great depths like a washing machine, and often circled back over the leaking well, sometimes two or three times.” That meant more munching by oil-loving microbes near the wellhead.
December 27, 2011 | By Kenneth R. Weiss, Los Angeles Times
Thick, tarry fuel oil disgorged into San Francisco Bay from a damaged cargo ship in 2007 was surprisingly toxic to fish embryos, devastating the herring population that feeds seabirds, whales and the bay's last commercial fishery, scientists reported Monday. Although the bay's herring spawning grounds are now free of toxic oil, studies have found that the moderate-size spill of 54,000 gallons had an unexpectedly large and lethal effect. The culprit, a common type of ship fuel called "bunker fuel," appears to be especially toxic to fish embryos, particularly when exposed to sunlight, according to a study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
December 15, 2011 | By Neela Banerjee, Washington Bureau
  The petroleum industry and federal regulators focused more on exploration and production than safety in the years leading up to the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill, helping to set the stage for the worst offshore environmental disaster in U.S. history, according to a new independent report by the National Academy of Engineering and the National Research Council. Conducted at the behest of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, the report said the "multiple flawed decisions that led to a blowout" on the Deepwater Horizon rig resulted from "a deficient overall systems approach to safety" among the corporations that ran the drilling of the Macondo well, including BP, Transocean and Halliburton.
December 14, 2011 | By Dean Kuipers
Sale of gas and oil leases officially restarts in the Gulf of Mexico Wednesday, after a hiatus following the BP oil spill in 2010, and environmental groups are stepping up lawsuits, claiming not enough is known about the effects of that spill. The Natural Resources Defense Council and the oceans advocacy group Oceana are pushing forward with a lawsuit over the environmental impacts of the Gulf spill, financed partly by a “six-figure” donation from “Dallas” star Victoria Principal.
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