Judge Releases BP From Probation For 2009 Spill

A federal judge today sided with BP Exploration in a lawsuit brought by the U.S. Government alleging two probation violations stemming from a 2009 oil spill.  The Government alleged that BP violated conditions of probation stemming from a 2007 Clean Water act violation, after an oil line froze and split resulting in the spill. In his decision, Judge Ralph Beistline found that BP could not have known the pipe would freeze and break and acted responsibly in addressing and cleaning up the spill once it was discovered.

Beistline released BP from probation, but did have strong words at the end of his order, saying if a similar situation should occur in the future he would see the situation differently. He wrote “BP is now clearly on notice of the potential that a freeze up could occur within an 18 inch common line that is part of a looped line system and that a freeze up could cause the pipe to burst. It is incumbent upon BP to make sure this does not happen again.”

A BP spokesman says the company is pleased with the decision. A call to the U.S Attorney’s office was not returned by air time.

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Lori Townsend is the News Director for the Alaska Public Radio Network. She got her start in broadcasting at the age of 11 as the park announcer of the fast pitch baseball games in Deer Park, Wisconsin. She has worked in print and broadcast journalism for more than 24 years. She was the co-founder and former Editor of Northern Aspects, a magazine featuring northern Wisconsin writers and artists. She worked for 7 years at tribal station WOJB on the Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibway Reservation in Wisconsin, first as an on-air programmer and special projects producer and eventually News Director. In 1997 she co-hosted a continuing Saturday afternoon public affairs talk program on station KSTP in St. Paul, Minnesota. Radio brought her to Alaska where she worked as a broadcast trainer for Native fellowship students at Koahnic Broadcasting. Following her work there, she helped co-found the non-profit broadcast company Native Voice Communications. NVC created the award-winning Independent Native News as well as producing many other documentaries and productions. Townsend was NVC’s technical trainer and assistant producer of INN. Through her freelance work, she has produced news and feature stories nationally and internationally for Independent Native News, National Native News, NPR , Pacifica, Monitor Radio, Radio Netherlands and AIROS. Her print work and interviews have been published in News from Indian Country, Yakama Nation Review and other publications. Ms. Townsend has also worked as a broadcast trainer for the Native American Journalist’s Association and with NPR’s Doug Mitchell and as a freelance editor. Townsend is the recipient of numerous awards for her work from the Alaska Press Club, the Native American Journalists Association and a gold and a silver reel award from the National Federation of Community Broadcasters. Townsend was the recipient of a Fellowship at the Metcalf Institute for Marine and Environmental Reporting in Rhode Island as well as a fellowship at the Knight Digital Media Center in Berkeley. She is an avid reader, a rabid gardener and counts water skiing, training horses, diving and a welding certification among her past and current interests. ltownsend (at) alaskapublic (dot) org  |  907.550.8452 | About Lori