deepwater

Florida has become the fourth American state to file a legal case against BP and cement contractor Halliburton in relation to the Deepwater Horizon disaster and the subsequent oil spill in 2010.

The 40-page complaint was filed by Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi in the US District Court in Panama City on 20 April, which marked the third anniversary of the tragedy that killed 11 people.

Florida’s move follows immediately after Mississippi filed a suit against BP on 19 April, joining Alabama and Louisiana, which are part of a federal trial in New Orleans against BP and its contractors, reported The Associated Press.

In the filing, Bondi said that BP didn’t replace the batteries of a blowout preventer, which is powered by a series of nine-volt battery packs that were supposed to activate automatically.

Bondi was quoted by the publication as saying: "BP knew or should have known that the manufacturer recommended replacement of the batteries in the battery packs at least once per year."

In the filing, the Attorney General has also accused Halliburton of installing faulty cement barriers and said that BP installed a defective valve on the same blowout preventer, which divers were not able to turn on manually.

"Florida’s move follows immediately after Mississippi filed a suit against BP on 19 April, joining Alabama and Louisiana."

The spill polluted nearly 1,100 miles (1,770km) of beaches and marsh along the Gulf Coast, and forced a large number of summer tourists who swim and fish to stay away from the waters.

"Indeed, Florida relies on the pristine nature of the Gulf of Mexico as the source for much of the attraction of patrons, tourists and visitors," the suit said.

Bondi’s complaint mainly focused on the state’s economic losses and includes negligence and other claims under federal, state and maritime law.

The Attorney General said the 2010 spill cost the state a variety of tax revenues, including sales taxes, gasoline taxes, cigarette surcharges and beer, wine and liquor taxes. According to the filing, nearly 85 million people visit Florida each year, generating $80bn of business in the state.

In early April 2013, US-based offshore drilling contractor Vantage Drilling sued a BP Plc unit, on the grounds that it had to pay an excess of $265.5m in financing costs in relation to the oil spill.

In the same month, BP lodged an appeal against a court ruling over a settlement for the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster that will force the company to pay out billions of dollars more than it had anticipated.

In February 2013, BP faced a new $34bn claim from local and southern state governments in the US, including Louisiana and Mississippi, for financial losses and property damage incurred as a result of the Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico.


Image: Deepwater Horizon rig on fire after the blowout.

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