U.S. Court of Appeals extends physical scope of Oil Pollution Act
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit has ruled that the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (OPA) applies to oil spills into waters that flow into navigable waters.
After oil from a well flowed into a drainage ditch, then a bayou, and then into a canal that eventually emptied into the Gulf of Mexico, the well owner opposed the U.S. government’s attempt to collect clean-up costs, contending that the spilled oil had not entered navigable waters.
The court held that the bayou was sufficiently adjacent to an open body of navigable water as to invoke OPA’s jurisdiction.
For more information, see “In the Matter of Needham,” No. 02-30217 (5th Circuit).