NEW ORLEANS — A Texas-based independent oil company has admitted that its negligence caused three oil spills in Jefferson Parish bayous. Cedyco Corp. agreed to pay a $557,000 fine and stop operating in Louisiana as part of a plea bargain signed Wednesday with the U.S. Department of Justice.
The plea, reached in U.S. District Court in New Orleans, is based on spills between February and mid-May 2008 at three facilities: a tank battery south of the Barataria Waterway on Bayou St. Denis; an oil storage and production platform near the Plaquemines Parish line on Bayou Dupont; and a well near that platform.
The fine will go into the Coast Guard’s Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund. The Coast Guard spent $750,000 to clean up the platform, tank battery, and a permanently moored barge located between them at Mud Lake, according to information from the Coast Guard.
Company president Lance W. Dreyer signed the guilty plea to three misdemeanor counts of violating the Clean Water Act and an eight-page statement of the facts on which it was based.
“Cedyco owned and operated several hydrocarbon facilities, including fixed barges, platforms and wells, in the brackish bayous of South Louisiana. As a general matter, Cedyco’s facilities were poorly maintained and operated without plans and permits required … by the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality,” the statement said.
It said the Bayou Dupont platform not only lacked response or spill control plans, but had missing or defective spill response equipment. As an example, it included a photograph of plants growing in rolled-up boom meant to absorb spilled oil.
The company lost its state lease to that oil field, as well as to fields in Lafourche and Vermilion parishes, years earlier. A Department of Natural Resources official declared the leases “orphaned” by negligence in 2006; a state appeal court upheld that order in July 2008.
Federal prosecutors agreed Wednesday not to bring any other charges against Cedyco for anything it did within the Eastern District from 2005 through Jan. 1, 2012. However, they noted that state and local prosecutors and those in other federal districts could still bring charges against the company.
Magistrate Judge Daniel E. Knowles III scheduled sentencing for Aug. 15.