WASHINGTON Feb 28 U.S. Attorney General
Eric Holder said on Tuesday that his team is prepared to go to
trial against BP Plc over the mammoth Gulf of Mexico oil
spill next week and said there could be developments on the
criminal investigation in the coming months.
The civil trial over the Macondo well blowout was scheduled
to start this week but was delayed until March 5 as BP tries to
reach a settlement with tens of thousands of businesses and
individuals affected by the disaster.
"We are prepared to go to trial. We were ready to go to
trial yesterday," Holder told a House of Representatives
appropriations subcommittee. He added that "we'll see what
happens during the course of that week" with regard to a
BP has also been negotiating with the Justice Department
over a possible settlement regarding violations of U.S.
environmental laws but there have been no signs that the two
sides were close to reaching a deal.
"We have a strong case. ... People, organizations have to be
held accountable, responsible for the lives that were disrupted,
the economic harm that was inflicted upon people that were
innocent, totally innocent," Holder said.
The Justice Department has also been looking into whether to
bring criminal charges related to the disaster that led to some
4.9 million barrels of oil spilling into the Gulf of Mexico.
Eleven people died in the worst offshore oil spill in U.S.
"I'm satisfied with the progress that we are making and I
would expect within months we will have something to say in that
regard as well," Holder said.
The attorney general also sought to assure lawmakers that if
there was any settlement with the federal government over
violations of the Clean Water Act and other environmental laws,
that it would reflect "the harm that was perpetrated and will
try to make whole people who suffered."
BP is potentially facing billions of dollars in fines under
environmental laws for the oil spill.