SeaWorld Reviewing Blue World Project After California Agency's Vote

"While we appreciate the opportunity to present the Blue World Project to the commission and are pleased that the commission recognizes the benefits of the planned expansion, we are disappointed with the conditions they have placed on their approval," said SeaWorld's President and CEO Joel Manby.

SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc. announced Oct. 9 that it will "review its options" in regard to its Blue World Project, a planned expansion of the company's killer whale environment at SeaWorld San Diego. The company made the announcement after of the California Coastal Commission approved the project with conditions the company does not accept, specifically a prohibition on breeding or transporting the whales at the facility.

"While we appreciate the opportunity to present the Blue World Project to the commission and are pleased that the commission recognizes the benefits of the planned expansion, we are disappointed with the conditions they have placed on their approval," said SeaWorld's President and CEO Joel Manby. "Depriving these social animals of the natural and fundamental right to reproduce is inhumane, and we do not support this condition."

The company describes the Blue World Project as a "first-of-its-kind killer whale environment [that] is planned to have a total water volume of 10 million gallons, nearly double that of the existing facility."

SeaWorld fought a protracted legal battle with OSHA after the agency filed two willful citations against SeaWorld after investigating trainer Dawn Brancheau's death in February 2010. A whale named Tilikum had pulled her into the pool during a performance and killed her. While an OSHRC administrative law judge affirmed the citations in June 2012, he downgraded them from willful to serious, and SeaWorld's appeal challenged the general duty clause violation. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit rejected the appeal in 2014. SeaWorld stopped allowing trainers to be in the water with killer whales after Brancheau's death and separated them with barriers or distance, which were the abatement measures proposed by OSHA. But SeaWorld argued the agency overreached by using the general duty clause here that barriers and distance create additional hazards for the trainers.

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