To read motion for TRO: http://gulfoildisasterrecovery.com/web/index.asp?cat=court
To see BP’s MVCA: http://gulfoildisasterrecovery.com/web/index.asp?cat=DOC
(May 7, 2010, NEW ORLEANS) This morning, the United Commercial Fisherman’s Association and its President George Barisich won an effort to seek a Temporary Restraining Order from Judge Kurt Engelhardt, U.S. District Court, Second District, requiring that BP take responsibility for hazardous chemical exposure safety oversight for all commercial fishermen employed in cleanup and mitigation services related to the DEEPWATER HORIZON/British Petroleum crisis in the Gulf of Mexico, said representing attorneys.
“The primary mission of the attorneys working on behalf of the United Commercial Fisherman’s Association is to protect their health and safety and to avoid the disastrous way in which fishermen were treated during the Exxon Valdez crisis in Alaska,” said Attorney Stuart Smith, of Smith Stag, LLC. “We are thankful this motion has not been denied and the public interest in promoting worker safety and expediting the clean-up of the environmental disaster will be served.”
In order to protect their homes and livelihood, commercial fishermen in Louisiana and other Gulf States have volunteered to assist BP in its clean-up efforts and have entered into agreements known as the Master Vessel Charter Agreement (MVCA) requiring them to provide the services of “tending or deploying boom and skimming equipment, skimming equipment, skimming operations, recovering oil debris, collecting garbage, assistance with wildlife operations and towing equipment.” Certain sections of the MVCA, which required fishermen to waive their legal and other constitutional rights in order to be employed, were declared void by the U.S. District Court earlier this week because of emergency legal actions taken by Mr. Barisich and his attorneys. The MVCA also put the responsibility for compliance with highly technical safety laws relating to work with hazardous substances on the fisherman, said Mr. Smith.
“The agreement stipulates BP amend the Master Vessel Charter Agreement and take responsibility to ensure workers are properly trained in haz-mat protocol and are provided all necessary equipment at BP’s expense,” said James Garner, of Sher Garner Cahill Richter Klein & Hilbert, L.L.C.
The TRO requested BP to acknowledge that it, not the vessel owner, is responsible for safety oversight as to hazardous chemical exposure for services performed under the MVCA by the vessel owner and his/her crew. This safety oversight duty shall include, but not be limited to the following actions:
(a) prepare, distribute and communicate a written safety and health program specific to this class of workers;
(b) prepare, develop and implement a medical surveillance program for this class of workers;
(c) prepare, develop and implement monitoring for airborne hazardous chemicals in the areas in which these workers have been or will be assigned to perform work;
(d) provide information as to the identification of the hazardous chemical exposure risks specific to the volunteer’s work and the area in which they have been or will be assigned to perform work;
(e) identify the personal protective equipment issued for persons performing services, to whom they are being provided, and the quantity in which they are being provided;
(f) describe the type of training being provided to persons performing services under the MVCA, including copies of all communications being made as part of that training, including but not limited to written materials disseminated, videos shown, or prepared remarks for speakers; and
(g) describe the worker notification program it intends to use for persons performing services under the MVCA.
LEAN CONTACT INFO:
Louisiana Environmental Action Network (LEAN), Mary Lee Orr
Contact Person: Mary Lee Orr
Phone: (225) 588-5059
STUART H. SMITH
MICHAEL G. STAG
Smith Stagg, L.L.C.
365 Canal Street, Suite 2850
New Orleans, LA 70130
Representing United Fishermen:
VAL PATRICK EXNICIOS, ESQ.
Liska, Exnicios & Nungesser
One Canal Place 22nd Floor
365 Canal Street, Suite 2290
New Orleans, LA. 70130
Telephone: (504) 410-9611
Facsimile: (504) 410-9937
JAMES M. GARNER
Sher Garner Cahill Richter Klein & Hilbert, L.L.C.
909 Poydras Street, 28th Floor
New Orleans, LA 70112-1033
Telephone: (504) 299-2100
Facsimile: (504) 299-2300
GLADSTONE N. JONES, III (# 22221)
Jones, Swanson, Huddell & Garrison, L.L.C.
Pan-American Life Center
601 Poydras Street, Suite 2655
New Orleans, LA 70130
Telephone: (504) 523-2500
Facsimile: (504) 523-2508
THOMAS AND KELLY BILEK
The Bilek Law Firm, LLP
808 Travis, Ste 802, Houston, TX, 77002
Phone: (713) 227-7720
Krupnick, Campbell, Malone, Buser
Ft. Lauderdale, FL
Falcon Kuykendall Ravenell and Murphy
Morris, Sakalarios & Blackwell, PLLC
Lowe, Stein, Allweiss & Hauver
New Orleans, L
Perrin Landry deLaunay Dartez & Ouellet
Sacks & Weston