NEW ORLEANS -- An oil company admitted Thursday that coffee filters were used to doctor water samples and cover up the fact that it was dumping oil and grease into the Gulf of Mexico on its platform 175 miles south of New Orleans.
W&T Offshore pleaded guilty to a felony and a misdemeanor and agreed to pay $700,000 in fines and $300,000 for community service. W&T, which is based in Texas, announced last month that it would plead guilty to tampering with water samples from its Ewing Banks Block 910 platform and illegally discharging into the Gulf.
The guilty plea also included additional details about the company’s crimes.
Those details included the fact that W&T’s contractors used coffee filters to clean the water samples before submitting them to regulators.
Also, the company admitted that when they spilled some oil in November 2009, they not only failed to report it to the Coast Guard, but sprayed the oil into the Gulf and then hired a company that worked for three days to clean the platform to make it look like there never was a spill.
Inspectors from the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement still found oil staining on the platform deck and visible sheen in the water, all of which W&T failed to report as required.