BP and other companies not only ignored safety and operating regulations, the Justice Department said in a lawsuit filed Wednesday, but BP also failed to take needed precautions to keep its Gulf of Mexico well under control before the April 20 blowout that killed 11 people.
While the full scope of the disaster isn't yet known, the Justice Department wrote in its suit, "the consequences include lost lives, destroyed livelihoods, and grave harm to natural resources across several states and related waters."
The lawsuit, the first phase in punishing the parties responsible for the spill, could wrest billions of dollars in civil penalties from nine companies the Justice Department blames, including BP, for allowing an estimated 4.1 million barrels of oil to gush into the gulf over three months, Kansas City Star reports.
US Attorney General Eric Holder said: "We intend to prove that these defendants are responsible for government removal costs, economic losses and environmental damages without limitation.
"Both our civil and criminal investigations continue."
Damages will be sought from BP, three Transocean subsidiaries and the group's insurers, Lloyds of London, two Anadarko Petroleum companies, Mitsui & Co Ltd unit MOEX and Trident Asset Leasing, according to Sky News.