Environmental group seeks role in US lawsuit over BP oil spill

08 February 2011 16:32  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS)--The US environmental group Sierra Club is seeking to intervene in the US lawsuit against BP over the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill, alleging on Tuesday that the Justice Department could avoid arguments for fear of implicating the federal government.

The Sierra Club filed its motion to intervene in a US district court in New Orleans, Louisiana. The lawsuit could reach $21bn (€15.5bn).  Defendants in the lawsuit include BP Exploration and Production, Anadarko Exploration & Production, Anadarko Petroleum, Transocean Deepwater and others.

“Our goal is to ensure that BP and other responsible parties are held fully accountable for the damage they’ve done to the Gulf coast,” said Sierra Club executive director Michael Brune.

The Sierra Club said that, as a party to the litigation, it would have a seat at the table in any potential settlement.

“By seeking maximum penalties, the group also hopes to deter oil companies from engaging in conduct that could lead to future disasters,” it said.

The Sierra Club noted that the greatest penalties were provided for “gross negligence”, adding that it could make arguments that the Justice Department would not because doing so would implicate the federal government.

“The federal government is under scrutiny for approving BP’s grossly inadequate oil spill response plan, which resulted in oil spewing unchecked for four months, and for allowing the company to overuse damaging oil dispersants following the spill,” the group said.

The 20 April 2010 explosion on the Deepwater Horizon rig killed 11 workers and resulted in a spill estimated at 4.9m barrels, making it the largest in US history.

($1 = €0.74)

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By: Ben DuBose
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