Groups Notify BP, U.S. Coast Guard, They'll Be Sued Over Burning of Kemp's Ridley Sea Turtles

Two groups plan to sue BP and the U.S. Coast Guard to stop endangered Kemp's ridley sea turtles from being burned alive in the Gulf of Mexico. NPS photo of nesting Kemp's ridley turtle.

Claims that endangered Kemp's ridley sea turtles are being burned alive under efforts to clean up oil from the Deepwater Horizon disaster have prompted two groups to sue BP and the U.S. Coast Guard.

Under the requirements of the Endangered Species Act, the Center for Biological Diversity and the Turtle Island Restoration Network filed a notice of intent to sue in a bid to save sea turtles from what they called "the chaotic clean-up efforts in the Gulf of Mexico."

“The spill was tragically timed for sea turtles that are nesting in the Gulf right now,” said Miyoko Sakashita, oceans director for the Center. “Newly hatched sea turtles are swimming out to sea and finding themselves in a mucky, oily mess. News that BP has blocked efforts to rescue trapped sea turtles before they’re burned alive in controlled burns is unacceptable.”

Padre Island National Seashore is a prime nesting grounds for Kemp's ridley turtles. While seashore officials bring turtle eggs into a hatchery to protect them until they hatch, the hatchlings then are released back into the Gulf of Mexico.

There are plans under way, though, to take turtle eggs laid in nests along the Alabama and Florida Gulf coasts and relocate them to eastern Florida where they, hopefully, will hatch and enter oil-free waters.

According to a release from the Center, a boat captain who had been rescuing sea turtles reported that BP started a burn operation before the rescue crew could survey the area and rescue the turtles.

Boats create a corral of oil by dragging together fire-resistant booms and then lighting the enclosed “burn box” on fire. If turtles are not removed from the area before the fire is lit, they are burned alive. The same Sargassum seaweed mats that are collecting oil also draw sea turtles, which use them for food and shelter. Unfortunately that leaves turtles, particularly young ones, vulnerable to being oiled and burned.

“BP is burning turtles alive and it is cruel, heartless and a crime we can’t and won’t allow to continue,” said Todd Steiner, biologist and executive director of Turtle Island Restoration Network. “Sea turtles were critically endangered before BP created America’s worst environmental catastrophe, and every effort possible must be taken to rescue endangered turtles from this oil spill. BP needs to reverse course and help double our efforts to rescue sea turtles, not prevent their recovery.”

The letter also requested that BP and the Coast Guard place qualified observers in the Gulf of Mexico who can survey for, and rescue, endangered turtles and other wildlife.

According to the Center, "(T)here is a concern that BP is limiting access to spill areas to suppress information about wildlife damages. As of today at least 429 sea turtles have been collected dead in the Gulf area; many more have likely been injured or killed but not found. In addition to the Kemp’s ridley, four other endangered sea turtle species are found in the Gulf of Mexico: greens, loggerheads, hawksbills and leatherbacks. They rely on areas throughout the Gulf of Mexico for nesting, reproduction, feeding and migration. All of these turtles are at risk from poisoning from oil and careless controlled burns."

Comments

It's a terrible tragedy what's happening, but how far do we take punishment of BP? Tens of thousands of Americans are employed by BP, especially in the gulf coast region. If we utterly destroy them, as some would want, all those folks lose their jobs at a time when we can ill-afford to have that happen. Plus the other oil & gas explorers will simply become more powerful as competition lessens, and/or oil & gas prices will rise which will also have a damaging effect on the environment.

We can't simply destroy BP with loads and loads of financial penalties. It will backfire. I'm all for making them pay fair claims for damages, but this impetus to cause their ruin needs to stop.

Due to budget cuts the Coast Guard recently had to cut 1000 sailors; decommission 4 High Endurance Cutters; and discontinue 4 Maritime Safety & Security Units in major port cities. So let me get this straight you want to sue a military service that is trying to rebuild its fleet of ships that is over 40-50 years old and has fewer personnel than the New York City Police Department. If you succeed in your frivilous lawsuit you will adversely impact the work of the service that is already in dire straights but still is able to do the following for the American people on a shoe string budget: After you read what they accomplish in a year maybe you would reconsider! Or maybe at least put it in perspective relative to the the monumental task they have been assigned.

•Responded to more than 24,000 search and rescue cases and saved more than 4,000 lives
•Conducted more than 70,000 commercial inspections of U.S flagged vessels
•Performed more than 12,000 safety and environmental examinations of foreign vessels entering U.S. ports
•Conducted nearly 4,700 marine casualty investigations
•Boarded nearly 3,700 underway fishing vessels to perform safety and compliance checks
•Saved almost $158 million in property
•Performed nearly 7,300 dockside safety examinations
•Enhanced the ability to detect and locate persons in distress through technology improvements that now cover more than 23,000 miles of the U.S. coastline
•Issued more than $122 million in state grants and $6.2 million in nonprofit grants for boating safety
•Issued nearly 84,000 credentials to qualified merchant mariners, who ensure the safe, secure, and efficient navigation of ships carrying 2.6 billion tons of commerce through our nation’s ports and waterways
•Working with the departments of Defense, Homeland Security, and Justice as well as other partners, broke last year’s record by removing nearly 185 tons of cocaine bound toward the United States via the transit zone
•Interdicted nearly 5,000 undocumented migrants attempting to illegally enter the United States
•Deployed six patrol boats and 400 personnel to protect Iraq’s maritime oil infrastructure, train Iraqi naval forces, and enforce U.N. sanctions in the Arabian Gulf
•Conducted more than 1,500 security boardings of high interest vessels bound for the United States
•Provided waterside security and escorts for nearly 500 military freight conveyances, which provided supplies to support Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom
•Serviced nearly 42,000 aids-to-navigation (such as beacons and buoys) and corrected more than 10,000 discrepancies.
•Delivered the first U.S. aid (more than 30 tons of supplies) to the Republic of Georgia following the South Ossetia war
•Rescued citizens and helped restore the marine transportation system during and after Hurricanes Ike and Gustav
•Performed domestic icebreaking, keeping waterways open for commercial traffic and assisting 680 ice transits that carried more than $2 billion worth of cargo
•Performed nearly 17,000 facility safety inspections and 20,000 container inspections
•Conducted more than 5,600 fisheries conservation boardings
•Investigated almost 4,000 pollution incidents

@Barky: That's what liability means. There are consequences. And they go up and down to each and every level.

If you work for an irresponsible employer, your job is always on risk. Do not work for irresponsible companies. Do not work for an employer whose company culture involves cutting edges and violating standards. And it goes beyond: Don't do business with such a company. And especially do not become dependent in your business to such a company.

As a local or state politician: Do not allow your region to become dependent on such a company or industry. That is what laws and regulations are good for. They protect decent companies and your whole economic networks from crooks. So do not allow anyone to violate regulations, certainly not the big players, because they are prone to become "too big to fail".

Do not invest in such a company. In England and the US many pension funds invested heavily in BP. They now have serious problems. It looks like a decent number of public servants in England will have lower pensions because of this ill advised investment.

But that is how a market economy works. If you, Barky, want protection from liability because of the consequences for employees and/or investors, you want to shift liability from the culprits to the state and the society/taxpayers. That is big state, bailouts and it is wrong.

MRC, I find your attitude naive, irresponsible, and frankly juvenile. You would flail around the harsh rod of justice to the detriment of people who had nothing to do with this tragedy. Time for everyone to start acting and thinking like adults, something that few have done regarding this BP fiasco.

I also suggest you improve reading comprehension, your last paragraph is a leap of your own that was not instigated by my post.