US sues BP Exploration Alaska over 2006 North Slope crude oil spills

The United States sued BP Exploration Alaska Inc. for allegedly violating federal clean air and water laws, the US Departments of Justice and Transportation and Environmental Protection Agency said on Mar. 31.

The civil complaint, which DOJ filed in federal court in Anchorage, alleges that the company It illegally discharged more than 200,000 gallons of crude oil onto Alaska's North Slope during the spring and summer of 2006.

It said that the BP America Inc. subsidiary failed to prepare and implement spill prevention, countermeasure and control plans in accordance with good engineering practices, and did not implement spill prevention measures pursuant to the federal Clean Water Act.

The complaint also said that BP Exploration Alaska violated the Clean Air Act by improperly removing asbestos-containing materials from its pipelines and failed to comply in a timely manner with a corrective action order which DOT's Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration issued pursuant to federal pipeline safety laws. PHMSA's order required the company to conduct certain testing, inspection, maintenance and repair activities, DOJ said.

It said that the suit asks the court to order BP Exploration Alaska to take all appropriate actions to prevent spills in the future, including systematically inspecting its pipelines and associated facilities for corrosion. DOJ said that the government also is seeking civil penalties up to the maximum amount authorized by law.

The action follows BP Exploration Alaska's guilty plea on Nov. 29, 2007, to one count of criminal negligent discharge of oil into US waters in violation of the Clean Water Act, DOJ said.

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com

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