Saturday, February 24, 2018
News Roundup

Tampa to seek $50 million in oil spill damages from BP

TAMPA — The city of Tampa announced Thursday it is seeking more than $50 million in damages from BP to cover past and future losses to tourism, business and local tax revenues caused by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill of 2010.

"There are some damages in terms of sales tax revenue and bed tax revenue and gas tax revenue as a result of folks who didn't come to the bay area and didn't come to Tampa specifically," Mayor Bob Buckhorn told the Tampa Bay Times.

While no oil appeared in Tampa Bay, the well gushed uncapped for months and experts speculated about whether it would be spread by currents looping around the Gulf of Mexico. The resulting images and alarm discouraged tourism and depressed business generally, said Steven Yerrid, the city's special counsel on the oil spill.

Forensic accountants have scrutinized more than a dozen sources of city revenue for effects from the spill and have found a "measurable effect," Yerrid said. The revenues examined include property taxes, sales taxes and taxes on city utilities and communication services, as well as street car, golf course and parking revenues.

"It's a broad spectrum," said Yerrid, who also has served as the special counsel to the governor on the spill. "We're talking about significant volumes of dollars."

Yerrid's firm also retained an expert in tourism economics to quantify the impact on each revenue stream by modeling what could have come in if the spill had never happened versus what actually did happen.

Slightly more than half of the city's claim consists of damages that officials expect Tampa will sustain in the future, said Yerrid, whose firm stands to receive 25 percent of money recovered.

Losses could include, for example, the business from an annual visitor who decided to steer clear of Tampa, opted to go to a place like Charleston, S.C., instead and ended up changing his or her vacation routine permanently.

"Now not only do you lose the customer, but you lose the repeat business," he said.

In addition to Tampa, city officials in Pensacola and Key West are seeking damages, and the Hillsborough County Commission has hired a law firm to file a claim on its behalf.

Government claims are being handled by a specialized team and being given a high priority, BP spokesman Ray Melick said in an email Thursday night to the Times.

"BP is committed to paying all legitimate claims relating to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill," he said. "BP has paid out more than $9.8 billion to individuals, businesses, governments and other payments."

Of that, $1.38 billion has been paid to governments through the end of last year, with more than $83 million going to Florida, according to the company.

The Deepwater Horizon rig blew up 50 miles off Louisiana on April 20, 2010. It took BP more than 85 days to cap the well on the sea floor. By that time, an estimated 172 million gallons of crude oil had gushed into the gulf.

Under the Oil Pollution Act of 1990, reimbursable losses to governments includes net loss of revenue from taxes, fees or other sources the government was unable to collect and unable to mitigate as a direct result of a spill.

"Shifting the burden from the taxpayers … to the wrongdoer and getting monetary restitution is a priority I think most people would support," Yerrid said.

BP and the city have 90 days to resolve the city's claim. After that, if no satisfactory settlement is reached, the city can file suit to press its claim in court.

"Litigation is always the means of last resort," Yerrid said. "We hope it's not necessary." But, he said, "We certainly aren't ruling out anything."

Times staff writer Bill Varian contributed to this report. Richard Danielson can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3403.

Comments
Police: Man, 60, arrested for fleeing from fatal Largo pedestrian crash

Police: Man, 60, arrested for fleeing from fatal Largo pedestrian crash

LARGO — A 60-year-old man who police said was the driver in a fatal pedestrian hit-and-run on East Bay Drive from three days prior was arrested by Largo Police on Saturday, the department said.Victor Bonavita was arrested on three charges in relation...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Sheriff: Roads reopen after Tampa crash results in natural gas leak near Citrus Park Mall

Sheriff: Roads reopen after Tampa crash results in natural gas leak near Citrus Park Mall

TAMPA — Officials reopened roads near Citrus Park Mall Saturday evening that had been closed in the afternoon for a natural gas leak caused by a car crash, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office said. The Sheriff’s Office and Hillsborough County Fi...
Updated: 5 hours ago

boca ratonState lawmakerencourages Scott to remove sheriffA lawmaker is calling on Florida Gov. Rick Scott to remove Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel from office after the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. In a letter sent to ...
Updated: 5 hours ago

Two airlinescut ties withNRA aftershootings

The National Rifle Association lashed out at corporations rushing to abandon it on Saturday, as companies from United Airlines to Best Western have cut ties with the gun lobby organization.Without context, twin announcements from Delta and United air...
Updated: 6 hours ago

‘Up to States’ to armteachers, Trump tweets

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump appeared Saturday to begin refining his proposals for combatting school violence, tweeting that arming teachers as a deterrent against such often deadly violence — an idea he championed in recent days — is "Up to S...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Security Council demands30-day cease-fire in Syria

Security Council demands30-day cease-fire in Syria

UNITED NATIONS — The U.N. Security Council unanimously approved a resolution Saturday demanding a 30-day cease-fire across Syria "without delay" to deliver humanitarian aid to millions and evacuate the critically ill and wounded. U.N. humanitarian ch...
Updated: 6 hours ago

Updated: 7 hours ago
Call her more than just a survivor

Call her more than just a survivor

TAMPA — On the quiet morning of Oct. 8, 2011, a 30-ton freight truck ran a stop sign in the small town of Clinton, Conn.It ran over Colleen Kelly Alexander, who was riding a bicycle.The truck's front wheels crushed her, then spit her to the bac...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Police: Male motorcyclist crashed, then the driver was run over by two cars

Police: Male motorcyclist crashed, then the driver was run over by two cars

TAMPA — A male motorcyclist died early Saturday morning on the Courtney Campbell Causeway, the Tampa Police Department said.About 1:35 a.m., the victim rode his motorcycle west on the Courtney Campbell at high speeds, police said. The motorcycle stru...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Northeast High alumnus Jon Mott wins 3rd Gasparilla 15K crown

Northeast High alumnus Jon Mott wins 3rd Gasparilla 15K crown

TAMPA — Roughly 20 minutes into Saturday morning's Publix Gasparilla Distance Classic 15K, reigning champ A.J. Richmond glanced over his left shoulder to former college teammate Jon Mott and flashed a quick hand signal."He was telling me that t...
Updated: 11 hours ago