Justice Department files oil spill lawsuit against BP and others

oil spill gulf of mexico 2010

The Justice Department lawsuit wants BP and eight other companies held liable for the cost of the Gulf oil spill. Image: CC Deepwater Horizon Response/Flickr

The Justice Department is suing BP for its role in the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010. The lawsuit cites the Oil Pollution Act and the Clean Water Act in demanding that BP and eight other companies be held liable for all oil spill costs. The suit states that a total assessment of oil spill liability, which is expected to be several billion, could take years to determine.

Oil spill lawsuit double trouble for BP

The Obama administration’s lawsuit against BP and other companies involved with the Gulf oil spill is the first legal action from the federal government associated with the disaster. The lawsuit asks the court to hold those named in the suit liable without limitation under the Oil Pollution Act for all removal costs and damages. The Justice Department is also citing the Clean Water Act to go after civil penalties that could be up to $1,100 per barrel spilled. That fine could rise to $4,300 per barrel if BP is ruled grossly negligent in the case, which the government will try to prove.

Lawsuit lists acts of BP negligence

The lawsuit accuses BP and a group of contractors of violating operational safety regulations. It says decisions were made to save time and money when safer alternatives could have been chosen. The best available drilling technology wasn’t used, and the necessary equipment and surveillance assets required for the protection of people, natural resources and the environment were not maintained. Because of the Clean Water Act provisions, BP has tried to reduce its potential fine by disputing government estimates of the oil spill volume.After the Deepwater Horizon disaster, the government reported that 4.9 million barrels were spilled. BP has said the government estimate is off by as much as 50 percent.

Other defendants in the BP oil spill lawsuit

The list of companies targeted by the Justice Department lawsuit include Anadarko Exploration & Production LP, Anadarko Petroleum Corp. and MOEX Offshore 2007 LLC, minority owners of the blown out Macondo well. Other contractors on the list include Triton Asset Leasing GMBH, Transocean Holdings LLC, Transocean Offshore Deepwater Drilling Inc. and Transocean Deepwater Inc. The Justice Department lawsuit also seeks damages from BP’s insurer, QBE Underwriting Ltd./Lloyd’s Syndicate 1036. Halliburton was left off the list.

Sources

Associated Press

Bloomberg

Wall Street Journal

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