BP and the federal government continue arguing over the amount of oil spilled into the Gulf of Mexico.
Scientists for BP and the federal government will provide U.S. District Judge Carl Barbie with very different estimates during the next 12 days of trial to determine the amount of oil spewed into the Gulf. Possible fines under the Clean Water Act could reach $18 billion, which is a fine close to BP’s annualized profits.
The spill left 11 men dead and huge stretches of sea and coast contaminated with oil.
The government told the court that about 4.9 million barrels of oil spilled into the Gulf. BP has estimated just 3.26 million barrels spilled, but both sides agreed that the 810,000 barrels of oil collected during the cleanup will be omitted from the final amount.
Justice Department attorneys will attempt to persuade Barbier that the ideal set of data on oil flow derives from a pressure gauge on the capping stack, which is used to seal the blown-out well. According to the attorney, it is the most accurate and reliable source of information. Department of Justice attorney Steve O'Rourke told the court that the amount of oil that gushed from BP's well was the equivalent of 16 Exxon Valdez oil spills.
However, BP states that the government reached an oil spill estimate before all the information was collected.
BP lawyer Mike Brock said the government scientists’ calculations on the spill had a wide range of errors and that they rushed to come up with an estimate days after the spill to appease the public.
This second phase of the trial is expected to last three more weeks.