March 31, 2009

Feds sue BP Exploration over Alaska spill

The federal government said Tuesday it is suing BP Exploration Inc. for two major oil spills that occurred in Alaska in 2006.

The U.S. Justice, Environmental Protection Agency and Transportation departments allege the subsidiary of BP America violated federal clean air and water laws by illegally discharging more than 200,000 gallons of crude oil from its pipelines onto the North Slope of Alaska in two separate spills in the spring and summer of 2006.

The complaint, filed in U.S. District Court in Anchorage, alleges the oil drilling company failed to prepare and implement plans to prevent and control the spills at Prudhoe Bay.

The agencies also allege the energy company violated the Clean Air Act by improperly removing asbestos-containing materials from its pipelines.

The lawsuit asks the court to order BP Exploration to take all appropriate action to prevent spills in the future, including systemically inspecting its pipelines and associated facilities for corrosion. It also seeks civil penalties up to the maximum amount authorized by law. The Justice Department did not specify the amount of damages it seeks in its news release.

BP Exploration pleaded guilty in November 2007 to one count of criminal negligent discharge of oil into U.S. waters in violation of the Clean Water Act.