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New rule makes violating BP oil spill ‘safety zone’ criminal

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Bill Lindner
Digital Journal
July 7, 2010

Anyone breaching a 20-meter safety zone established by the Coast Guard around all Deepwater Horizon clean-up and response operations may face fines and felony charges. 

The U.S. Coast Guard, acting under the authority of British Petroleum (BP), recently issued a blurry order requiring everyone – including bloggers, journalists, photographers and reporters — to reportedly stay 20 meters away from any oil clean-up boom, operation, equipment or vessel in the Gulf of Mexico.

Violating the rule can result in arrest, felony prosecution, and a $40,000 fine. The 20-meter safety zone surrounding all Deepwater Horizon booming operations and oil response efforts taking place in Southeast Louisiana was established by the Coast Guard under the authority of the Ports and Waterways Safety Act (PDF).

A news release from the official site of the Deepwater Horizon Unified Command website prohibits — under the penalty of law — vessels from coming within 20 meters of booming operations, boom, or oil spill response operations.

If a vessel operator cannot avoid the 20-meter rule, they’re required to be cautious of the areas by transiting at a safe speed and distance. Violators of an oil spill safety zone could be subject to civil penalty fines up to $40,000 and willful violations could result in being prosecuted for committing a class D felony.

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This article was posted: Wednesday, July 7, 2010 at 4:18 am

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