Deepwater Horizon update

The United States Department of Justice filed suit December 15, 2010 seeking civil penalties and billions of dollars in fines against BP and its eight partnering companies over the Deepwater Horizon Gulf Oil Spill.

The Government’s civil claims arise under the Clean Water Act and the Oil Pollution Act. The complaint alleges that the companies’ violation of several federal safety and operational regulations caused serious environmental damage. The Government seeks compensation for cleanup costs, environmental damage and damage to natural resources.

Under the Clean Water Act, the Government may seek civil penalties of $1,100 per barrel of oil spilled into the water. In certain circumstances, the Act also authorizes the Government to recover up to $4,300 per barrel spilled. In August, the Government reported a near 4.9 million barrels spilled into the Gulf of Mexico thus far, and this number may increase as investigations continue.

The Government filed the complaint in federal court in New Orleans. This suit is the first lawsuit brought by the Government against BP and its partnering companies.

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