Volusia County schools suing BP over Gulf oil spill



VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. - A school district on Florida's east coast is suing BP and other companies involved in the 2010 Gulf oil spill.

The Volusia County School District said it has taken a financial hit even though it's not on the Gulf of Mexico.

The district said they couldn't say a dollar amount, but they said the oil spill hurt property values and tourism in Florida.

The Gulf oil spill was a massive disaster. It ravaged the fishing industry, impacting workers and businesses along the Gulf Coast. BP has paid out millions to those affected.

"I remember it was a disaster when it happened. There was a lot of fear," said beach visitor John Richards.

Those in the tourism industry said visitors stayed away. They said it hurt the industry.

Now, the oil giant and other businesses involved are facing a wave of lawsuits, including the suit filed by the Volusia County School Board.

The school board filed the lawsuit despite that fact their Volusia County sits along Florida's Atlantic Coast, far away from the Deepwater Horizon platform that exploded and sank near Louisiana.

"I've been surfing Main Street for probably five years," said Darius DeBarros.

DeBarros said he heard other surfers talk about seeing some oil off the coast of Volusia County, but he never did.

"(A) couple people in Ponce said they saw some in the Smyrna area," said DeBarros.

Even though not much oil was seen washed up along the shore in Volusia County, the school district claims the fear and stigma attached to oil on the beaches lowered property values in the county. And lower property values means less tax money for schools.

In the lawsuit the school board also claims fewer tourists has meant a loss of sales tax money and less Florida Lottery money, both of which are sources of income for schools.

"I would say it's kind of a stretch absolutely. I don't blame them for trying but it sounds like a stretch to me," said DeBarros.

The district has hired an outside private attorney to handle the case.