McClatchy – Justice Department sues BP, others over Gulf oil spill
By Erika Bolstad and Renee Schoof | McClatchy Newspapers
WASHINGTON — BP and other companies not only ignored important safety and operating regulations, the Justice Department said in a lawsuit filed Wednesday, but it also failed to take necessary precautions to keep its Gulf of Mexico well under control before the April 20 blowout that killed 11 people.
While the full scope of the disaster isn’t yet known, the Justice Department wrote in its suit, “the consequences include lost lives, destroyed livelihoods, and grave harm to natural resources across several states and related waters.”
The lawsuit, the first phase in punishing the parties responsible for the spill, could wrest billions of dollars in civil penalties from nine companies the Justice Department blames, including BP, for allowing an estimated 4.1 million barrels of oil to gush into the Gulf of Mexico over three months. Because each barrel spilled carries a fine of as much as $4,300, those flow-rate estimates — derived by a government team and already disputed by BP — will be at the heart of the multi-billion dollar case.