U.S. sues BP unit over Alaska oil spills

Tue Mar 31, 2009 8:49pm EDT

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. government has filed a civil complaint against BP Exploration (Alaska) Inc alleging that the Alaska-based company violated U.S. clean air and water laws, the U.S. Justice Department said on Tuesday.

The complaint, filed in U.S. District Court in Anchorage, accuses BPXA of illegally discharging more than 200,000 gallons of crude oil from its pipelines onto the North Slope of Alaska during two major oil spills in the spring and summer of 2006.

The complaint also alleges that BPXA failed to prepare and implement adequate spill prevention measures required under the Clean Water Act.

“We have taken significant steps to ensure that our operations are safe and reliable, and protect the environment,” said BP Exploration Alaska spokesman Steve Rinehart.

The lawsuit, filed by the Justice Department on behalf of the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Transportation, asks the court to order BPXA to take appropriate action to prevent spills in the future.

The government is also seeking the highest amount of civil penalties possible by law, the Justice Department said.

BPXA is a wholly owned subsidiary of BP America, a unit of London-based BP.

(Reporting by JoAnne Allen; Editing by Gary Hill)

~ by fredfelleman on March 31, 2009.

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