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Court rules BP must release spill data

Jan. 10, 2013 at 4:33 PM   |   Comments

NEW ORLEANS, Jan. 10 (UPI) -- The public must know about toxic materials used in the April 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill and their potential health effects, a three-judge federal panel says.

The unanimous decision Wednesday by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals was a partial victory for the Center for Biological Diversity, The (New Orleans) Times-Picayune reported Wednesday.

The appeals court sided with U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier's ruling that provisions of environmental laws that allowed individuals to enforce them were made moot when federal officials declared the Deepwater Horizon well capped on July 25, 2010.

However, the panel ruled Barbier erred when he declared as moot a provision of the Right-to-Know Act that required BP to report to state and federal officials what hazardous substances were released during the spill. The information could then be released to the public.

Miyoko Sakashita, oceans director for the center, said the decision was "a very important victory that BP could be finally forced to publicly disclose all the toxic components it spilled into the waters, but we're disappointed by the dismissal of our Clean Water Act claims."

Attorneys for BP argued such information was made available at various government websites, but the judges said the specific information required by law was "not immediately apparent."

The ruling sends the case back to Barbier for further action.

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