US accuses BP of 'gross negligence' in 2010 oil spill

WASHINGTON, Sept 4 Tue Sep 4, 2012 8:52pm EDT

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WASHINGTON, Sept 4 (Reuters) - The U.S. Justice Department is ramping up its rhetoric against BP PLC for the massive 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, laying out in a new court filing examples of what it calls "gross negligence and willful misconduct."

The filing is the sharpest position yet taken by the U.S. government as it seeks to hold the British oil giant largely responsible for the largest oil spill in U.S. history.

"The behavior, words, and actions of these BP executives would not be tolerated in a middling size company manufacturing dry goods for sale in a suburban mall," government lawyers wrote in the filing on Aug. 31 in federal court in New Orleans.

The government lawyers wrote that they decided to elaborate on BP's alleged gross negligence because they believed BP was trying to persuade a federal judge to exonerate the company.

The oil spill started in April 2010 when an explosion destroyed the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig and killed 11 workers. Some analysts have put the cost of the spill at $60 billion or more.

Spokespeople for BP did not respond to a request for comment late on Tuesday.

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