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Four environmental groups have reached a temporary agreement with BP to settle a lawsuit that accused the oil company of violating the Endangered Species Act by possibly burning sea turtles alive during controlled burns of oil on the Gulf of Mexico.
The groups filed suit Wednesday and sought a temporary restraining order to prevent BP and government responders from proceeding with the controlled burns. In the suit, the groups cite two Venice charter captains who have been working with sea turtle rescuers.
Both captains, Michael Ellis and Kevin Aderhold, said they and biologists they've been working with have rescued turtles stuck in thick oil within sight of the "burn boxes" where BP's crews corrall and ignite oil on the surface. In the suiit Ellis said that many of the turtles rescued, including endangered Kemp's Ridley sea turtles, are often found along an "oil line," where currents converge and amass thick globs of oil. "Based on my years of experience in the Gulf of Mexico, it is almost certain that endangered turtles were present in the burn boxes that I observed on the same oil line where our rescue team saved ten endangered turtles, and that these turtles will continue to be present in similar burn boxes that continue to be used by BP as part of its practice of controlled burns," Ellis said in the declaration filed for the lawsuit.