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Wednesday
Dec152010

BP Oil Spill: Government Sues, Seeking Billions

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The Justice Department filed suit Wednesday against BP and eight other companies it says are responsible for this summer's massive Gulf of Mexico oil spill. The government is trying to recover tens of billions of dollars in penalties and damages.

The lawsuit seeks to recoup costs and damages under the Oil Pollution Act and impose additional penalties to the tune of up to $20 billion under the Clean Water Act.

Under the Clean Water Act, the companies can be fined up to $4,300 a barrel. The federal government estimates some 4.9 million barrels spilled into the Gulf following the April 20 Deepwater Horizon rig explosion that killed 11 people.

"We intend to prove these violations caused or contributed to the massive oil spill," Attorney General Eric Holder said Wednesday.

He said the federal government intends to hold the companies "accountable for violations of the law."

The lawsuit says inadequate cement contributed to the disaster, but Halliburton Co., which supplied the cement, is not named in the suit.

Holder said additional defendants, potentially including Halliburton and Cameron International, the manufacturer of the critical blow-out preventer, could still be named in both the civil and criminal suits.

Hundreds of class-action suits brought by the fishing, tourism, and seafood industries are already making their way through the courts.

In addition to the federal government, Alabama and Louisiana have also filed suit against BP and other companies.

The firms currently named in the federal suit are: BP Exploration and Production Inc., Transocean Holdings LLC, Transocean Offshore Deepwater Drilling Inc, Transocean Deepwater Inc, Anadarko Exploration & Production, Anadarko Petroleum Corporation, MOEX Offshore 2007 LLC (a division of Mitsui Oil corporation), Triton Asset Leasing, and BP's insurer QBE Underwriting/Lloyds.

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