As you have probably heard by now, the U.S. Justice Department has sued BP Exploration and Production and 8 other companies connected to the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico (..better late than never).
Basically, the lawsuit is based on safety and operation violations leading up to April 20, the day the oil well blew up and killed 11 workers.
Doug Stanglin of USA TODAY writes:
The Obama administration’s lawsuit asks that the companies be held liable without limitation under the Oil Pollution Act for all removal costs and damage caused by the oil spill, including damage to natural resources.
The lawsuit also seeks civil penalties under the Clean Water Act.
Who is the U.S. Justice Dept Suing for the Oil Spill?
The lawsuit is for billions of dollars the U.S. government has spent on this disaster.
“The federal lawsuit says inadequate cementing of the well contributed to the disaster,” the Associate Press reports. “Similar charges were made by BP in its internal investigation, and by the independent presidential oil spill commission.”
However, several companies are being sued for their contributions to the disaster (if you can put it like that).
Other than BP, the defendants are: Anadarko Exploration & Production LP and Anadarko Petroleum Corp.; MOEX Offshore 2007 LLC; Triton Asset Leasing GMBH; Transocean Holdings LLC and Transocean Offshore Deepwater Drilling Inc. and Transocean Deepwater Inc.; and Transocean’s insurer, QBE Underwriting Ltd./Lloyd’s Syndicate 1036.
Transocean says it cannot be held responsible for this disaster. “No drilling contractor has ever been held liable for discharges from a well under the Oil Pollution Act of 1990,” it told The Associated Press. “The responsibility for hydrocarbons discharged from a well lies solely with its owner and operator.”
The U.S. Justice Department disagrees:
It says that the defendants failed to keep the Macondo well under control during that period and failed to use the best available and safest drilling technology to monitor the well’s conditions. They also failed to maintain continuous surveillance and failed to maintain equipment and material that were available and necessary to ensure the safety and protection of personnel, equipment, natural resources and the environment, the suit charges.
Who isn’t the U.S. Justice Dept Suing (Yet)
One noticeable culprit the Justice Dept didn’t include in the lawsuit is Halliburton. It is strange since:
The staff of a presidentially appointed commission looking into the spill has said that the disaster resulted from questionable decisions and management failures by three companies: BP, the well owner and operator; Transocean, the owner of the Deepwater Horizon rig; and Halliburton.
The panel found 11 decisions made by these companies increased risk. Most saved time, and all but one had a safer alternative.
However, Halliburton could be added to the lawsuit in the future, conceivably, Holder says.
Who Else is Suing BP and Other Oil Spill Culprits?
Along with the U.S. Justice Dept, over 300 lawsuits have been filed and now consolidated in federal court. These potential class-action lawsuits include lawsuits from those in the fishing and seafood industry, the tourism industry, restaurants, property owners who lost vacation renters, and vacationers who couldn’t get their deposits back on flights they no longer wanted to take to the Gulf region.
Additionally, “Alabama Attorney General Troy King filed federal lawsuits in August on behalf of the state against BP, rig owner Transocean, cement contractor Halliburton Energy Services Inc. and other companies that worked on the ill-fated drilling project.”
Looks like there’s a long series of battles in court on the horizon, battles that will probably last much longer than the BP oil spill itself but probably not as long as the ecological and economic effects of the oil spill.