For those of you who sleep well at night knowing that the government is competently and robustly working to protect the health of our environment, you may want to stop reading now. Here’s a story that flew under the radar last week from WWLTV in 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] 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.

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The company was fined $700,000 and will pay “$300,000 in community service,” whatever that means.

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Just to be clear, the reporting process goes like this.

  1. Company takes water sample.
  2. Company sends water sample to government.
  3. Government looks at submitted water sample and says OK.

And in order to get that OK, the company need only add step 1a: Pass them through a semiporous piece of paper. Got it.

How was W&T caught?

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.

Thank God for irredeemable idiocy.