Company accused of dumping oil in Gulf of Mexico

GULF OF MEXICO — The Justice Department is suing a Houston, Texas-based company it accuses of illegally discharging oil from a platform in the Gulf of Mexico.

The federal lawsuit says ATP Oil & Gas Corp.’s alleged Clean Water Act violations were discovered during an Interior Department inspection in March 2012.

The suit claims ATP failed to properly operate and maintain the wastewater treatment system on a platform floating off the coast of Louisiana, causing oil to be discharged into the Gulf in greater quantities than it was permitted. The lawsuit doesn’t specify how much oil in the wastewater was discharged.

Workers on the platform, called the ATP Innovator, are accused of using an unauthorized dispersant called Cleartron ZB-103 to mask the oil sheen on the water’s surface.

“ATP contractors working aboard the ATP Innovator referred to the on-board use of Cleartron ZB-103 as ‘the soap’ and ‘the sheen buster,’” the suit says.

The company’s permit doesn’t authorize it to discharge the dispersant into the Gulf or any other waters, the suit adds.

ATP, which develops natural gas and oil properties in the Gulf, the North Sea and the Mediterranean Sea, filed for bankruptcy in August. ATP Infrastructure Partners, a company formed by ATP and GE Energy Financial Services, also is named as a defendant in the suit.

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