Oil giant BP and Chevron are suing the US government for more than $3.5 billion in damages for failing to do enough to stop the oil spill from harming marine life on the Deepwater, an area that the company claims it knew would be damaged by the spill, the Justice Department said Tuesday.
The case was filed in the Southern District of Texas, the department’s New York headquarters.
The companies said they have been “furious” at the government’s failure to do anything to stop Deepwater’s spill.
The suit comes after the oil giant, which has a $15 billion US oil and gas exploration and production contract, claimed the federal government failed to take any action for over a year after the accident.
The lawsuit is part of a broader lawsuit filed by BP and Exxon Mobil in a bid to force the government to hold BP accountable for what the companies claim was a massive oil spill that killed at least 11 people.
BP and Shell have also been sued by environmental groups and the families of those who died.
The Justice Department alleges that BP and its subsidiaries knew in April 2010 that the spill would be hazardous to marine life and that the government should take immediate action to limit the damage.
The lawsuit says BP’s and its subsidiary’s failure contributed to the disaster, and that BP’s failure “was reckless and negligent.”
The lawsuit also claims that Exxon’s failure, according to the suit, led to the death of an 8-year-old girl who drowned in a swimming pool while trying to retrieve a toy.
“This case demonstrates that, in addition to its own corporate and political priorities, BP, ExxonMobil, and other oil companies are not truly independent and are not in the best interests of the people they claim to serve,” the Justice Office said in a statement.
“BP and other companies’ failure to take immediate and meaningful steps to reduce the spill’s environmental damage, and to hold its executives accountable for their role in it, creates a risk to the safety and well-being of all people living in the area.”
“The Deepwater crisis was a result of BP and other petroleum companies’ inadequate and reckless environmental planning,” the statement said.
“As BP’s chief executive officer testified in the Senate, the spill created the greatest environmental disaster in US history.
That disaster has been long and deeply felt by those living onshore and offshore of the Gulf of Mexico, but it has not been adequately addressed or even properly addressed by BP.”
The US government did, however, provide the companies with the resources they needed to clean up the spill and mitigate environmental damage.
BP, for instance, was granted a waiver of the federal Clean Water Act to clean its oil and other hazardous materials from the Deepsea and allow them to be stored for future disposal.
Earlier this year, the Department of Justice said it would investigate the Deepwaters spill and find out whether it had violated any federal environmental laws.