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In re Oil Spill by the Oil Rig "Deepwater Horizon"

ELR Citation: 42 ELR 20253
Nos. 2179, (E.D. La., 11/28/2012) (Barbier, J.)

A district court dismissed claims against the manufacturer of the chemical dispersant used in response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Cleanup responders and coastal residents filed suit against the manufacturer, claiming they suffered a variety of exposure-related injuries, including headaches, nausea, respiratory problems, eye irritation, rashes, burns, and lesions. But the claims asserted—whether brought under state law or general maritime law—are preempted by the CWA and the National Contingency Plan (NCP). The CWA and NCP expressly contemplate that dispersants may be used in response to an oil spill and require the Federal On-Scene Coordinator to direct all levels of response. Here, the coordinator approved surface and subsea applications of the dispersant on a daily basis. These authorizations included limits on when, where, and in what quantities it could be applied. The manufacturer did not decide whether, when, where, how, or in what quantities the dispersant was applied in response to the spill.