Sea Turtle Group To BP: Stop Controlled Burns Or We'll Sue

A group that works to protect endangered sea turtles is demanding BP change one of its Gulf oil spill cleanup practices — or face a lawsuit. David Pitman has more.

Kemps Ridley Turtle endangered turtleThe Turtle Island Restoration Network — or TIRN — says turtles are getting caught inside what are called oil boxes.  Those are areas cordoned off with fire-resistant booms, and then set on fire to burn off the oil.    Carole Allen is the Gulf Office Director of the Sea Turtle Restoration Project, which is affiliated with TIRN.  

"Not looking and not being concerned about what's in this area before you throw a match down is not acceptable.  It's inhumane, and these are an endangered animal.  I can hardly believe it's happening, but it has happened, because there are witnesses to it."

Allen says those controlled burns have killed an unknown number of turtles.  TIRN has sent a letter to BP and the U.S. Coast Guard notifying them that the group will sue them both under the Endangered Species Act if the controlled burns continue unchanged.

"We want observers out there looking at the oil and trying to remove the turtles before a match is lit."

The BP press office in Houston would not confirm whether it had received the letter from TIRN demanding a change to the controlled burns or face a lawsuit.  The company says it does not comment on pending litigation.

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David Pitman

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