Faced with ongoing cleanup costs and widespread ecological damage, the U.S. Justice Department filed a lawsuit today against BP and eight other companies involved in the massive Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
In addition to BP, other defendants named in the lawsuit are Transocean, the primary owner of the Deepwater Horizon rig; Anadarko, which owned a 25-percent interest in the well; MOEX, the U.S. unit of Japan’s Mitsui Oil Exploration Co, Ltd.; and Lloyd’s of London, BP’s insurer. One unit of Anadarko and three units/subsidiaries of Transocean are also named as defendants.
The complaint, filed in U.S. District Court in New Orleans, seeks damages under the Clean Water Act to help pay for cleanup and damages to natural resources compromised by the oil spill. The lawsuit alleges the defendants violated a series of federal safety and operational regulations governing offshore oil drilling and extraction, and that those violations led to the explosion on the rig and the disastrous oil spill – the largest in U.S. history.
According to the complaint, the companies “failed to take necessary precautions” to safely and properly control the well before the oil rig exploded and “failed to use the best available and safest drill technology” in the Deepwater Horizon operations.
“We intend to prove that these defendants are responsible for government removal costs, economic losses and environmental damages without limitation,” Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. announced.
The Deepwater Horizon, a mobile offshore platform, was situated about 45 miles off of the Louisiana coast when it exploded on April 20, killing 11 workers. Responders couldn’t control the fire before the rig sank two days later, breaking the riser pipe. The well’s blow-out preventer (BOP) was also known to be damaged before the explosion and therefore it failed to stop the oil from gushing deep into the Gulf at a rate of 60,000 barrels per day.