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20 Jan 2012

Margaret Cronin Fisk, Allen Johnson Jr., Bloomberg

BP, Anadarko Should Be Held Liable Before Trial, U.S. Says [USA]

BP...Transocean...and Anadarko...should be found liable before trial for violations of federal pollution laws stemming from the April 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill, lawyers for the U.S. argued...The Justice Department is asking U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier to find the companies violated the Clean Water Act on the basis of so-called strict liability because they were operators of the doomed project. Barbier, who’s overseeing much of the spill litigation, has scheduled a nonjury trial for Feb. 27 to determine liability and apportion fault for the disaster.A ruling by Barbier against the companies would mean they couldn’t fight allegations of Clean Water Act violations at the trial and would allow the U.S. to seek fines of as much as $1,100 from each company per barrel of oil spilled. The government has also asked Barbier to find Anadarko and Transocean liable under the Oil Pollution Act, a separate environmental law, for cleanup costs and damages. BP already accepted responsibility for those costs...Even if Barbier does rule for the U.S. on its bid for a pretrial decision, the question of gross negligence...will be considered at trial.