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For Immediate Release, June 3, 2010

Contact: Miyoko Sakashita, (415) 632-5308,

BP Faces Lawsuit for Polluting Gulf Waters:
Citizen Suit Steps in to Hold BP Accountable

SAN FRANCISCO— The Center for Biological Diversity formally notified BP of its intent to file suit under the Clean Water Act over the ongoing Gulf oil spill. The company, which received the notice today, is potentially liable under the Clean Water Act for billions of dollars in penalties for the spill.

“BP has shown that it lacks the capability to stop this massive leak, and the federal government is waiting and watching,” said Miyoko Sakashita, oceans director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “The Clean Water Act provides for citizen enforcement when the polluter and government fail to act, and we intend to seek the maximum penalty possible against BP.”

The catastrophic BP oil spill obviously runs afoul of the Clean Water Act’s prohibition against water pollution, which protects our waters for wildlife, recreation, and fishing. BP is liable for every gallon of oil that gushes into the Gulf’s productive and fragile environment; it may be responsible for more than 40 million gallons of oil and toxic chemicals, including benzene, arsenic, and mercury. While hopes continue that BP will stop the leak, the Gulf will feel the impacts for many years to come. The oil that continues spewing in the Gulf of Mexico is the largest oil spill in the nation’s history and is an unprecedented environmental disaster for local communities and economies, as well as the wildlife that depends on the Gulf.

“The oil spill clearly violates numerous laws, but government enforcement is lacking. This continues the government’s tradition of lax oversight when it comes to the oil industry,” added Sakashita. “The government probe is a start, but it has taken far too long to get rolling. The lawsuit announced today aims to drive a vigorous prosecution of BP for its environmental destruction.”

The Clean Water Act permits the government to pursue an enforcement action and seek fines against BP. This week the government announced an investigation of BP’s liability. It is undisputed that oil is polluting the Gulf, and BP is responsible, but the government has not initiated an enforcement action against BP. This suit seeks to enforce environmental laws that BP is blatantly violating.

The Center is represented by attorney Charlie Tebbutt of Eugene, Oregon, and Marc Fink, a Center staff attorney.

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