Coverage: Gulf Coast Oil Spill
The BP oil spill has yet to reach the Naples coast but it already has hit home for Brian Doyle.
The NCH North Naples Hospital night maintenance supervisor has put the oil giant on notice that he intends to sue the company under the Clean Water Act over the seemingly unstoppable disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.
A Louisiana lawyer representing the Gulf Restoration Network, the Louisiana Environmental Action Network and Environment America sent a similar 60-day notice letter earlier this month.
Doyle said a lawsuit isn’t about recouping monetary damages but about striking a citizen’s blow for environmental justice.
“It’s a wake-up call for so many of us that sit in our lull of everyday life thinking we can’t do anything,” said Doyle, 50, who lives in The Moorings, about a mile from the beach.
The Deepwater Horizon rig leased to BP off the Louisiana coast exploded April 20, killing 11 workers. It sank two days later. Plans to cap the blown-out well have failed to stop at least 40 million gallons of oil from spewing into the Gulf, fouling marshes and beaches from Louisiana to the Florida Panhandle.
Scientists say it could take years for the Gulf to recover from the spill that is threatening a way of life in fishing communities and tourist towns along the Gulf coast.
The letters to Houston-based BP Exploration and Production Inc. say the company violated the Clean Water Act by failing to maintain the rig before the spill, not doing enough to stop the spill and inaccurately measuring how much oil is billowing out of the well.
They call on BP to provide accurate measurements of the spill, a three-dimensional footprint of the oil’s location and information on available technologies to clean up the mess.
Doyle’s attorney, Patricia Finn, said she hopes to force a fuller exploration of ways to plug the well and mitigate the environmental damage.
“It seems there’s a great disconnect between the solutions and BP doing something about it,” Finn said.
The Clean Water Act provides for a 60-day notice period before a lawsuit can be filed, but Finn says she doesn’t intend to wait that long.
Finn said she also plans to sue rig owner Transocean and contractor Halliburton, which has been accused of performing shoddy well work that contributed to the explosion.
The pairing of Finn and Doyle happened almost by accident.
Finn specializes in representing parents and children who have religious objections to vaccinations or who have been harmed by vaccines.
Doyle, who has lived in Naples for most of the past 18 years, is studying environmental management and policy and is involved in a local grass-roots push for clean energy.
The two went to the same high school in New York and had been part of a group exchanging messages on Facebook about the BP disaster, Doyle said.
“We’re all on there steaming, whining, crying and wishing we could do something,” Doyle said.
When Finn suggested a lawsuit, Doyle volunteered to be the plaintiff, he said.
He said he’s using the Clean Water Act “like any good citizen should.”
But Doyle has another qualification as a BP lawsuit plaintiff.
A former competitive runner, Doyle spends time these days running for fun on the beach — barefoot.
Connect with Eric Staats at www.naplesnews.com/staff/eric_staats/.