Tag Archives | BP Oil Spill

Suing EPA Over Gulf Cleanup

The Center for Biological Diversity has filed a notice of intent to sue the Environmental Protection Agency for authorizing the use of chemical dispersants to faciliate the cleanup of oil from the Deepwater Horizon accident in the Gulf of Mexico.  According to a CBD attorney, “The fact that no one in the federal government ever required that these chemicals be proven safe for this sort of use before they were set loose on the environment is inexcusable.”  CBD fears that use of the dispersant chemicals could increase the threats faced by some Gulf species.  More from BLT here. [...]

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Prosecuting BP

University of Michigan law professor David Uhlmann, former chief of the environmental crimes section in the Department of Justice, had an op-ed in the NYT discussing the potential prosecution of British Petroleum and its executives for the Deepwater Horizon blowout and spill.  He writes:

If the spill had resulted from a hurricane or lightning strike, or if it had been an unavoidable accident — an equipment failure that happened without warning — it wouldn’t warrant criminal prosecution. Increasingly, however, it appears that there was negligence or worse in the events leading to the explosion of the rig.

News reports have described warning signs that went unheeded and deviations from standard industry practice: Gas was seeping into the well. The blowout preventer was leaking. Concerns were raised about the well casing. There were signs of trouble with the cement in the well. Mud circulation was limited. A final concrete plug was not properly installed. And when disaster struck, the blowout preventer failed.

Prosecutors must examine all witness statements, internal documents and any physical evidence that remains after the explosion. But if the news articles are accurate, the Justice Department should bring criminal charges against BP, and possibly Transocean and Halliburton, for violations of the Clean Water Act, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the Refuse Act — the same charges brought in the Exxon Valdez case. Exxon ultimately paid a criminal fine of $125 million, the largest ever for an environmental crime. . . .

No one thinks BP, Transocean or Halliburton intended to spill oil into the gulf. But given good evidence, the government could argue that the companies cut corners or deviated so much from standard industry practice that they knew a blowout could happen. Or, the government could argue that, even if the initial gusher involved

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