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The Justice Department on Wednesday sued BP and eight other companies in the Gulf oil spill disaster in an effort to recover billions of dollars from the largest offshore spill in U.S. history.

The Obama administration's lawsuit asks that the companies be held liable without limitation under the Oil Pollution Act for all removal costs and damages caused by the oil spill, including damages to natural resources. The lawsuit also seeks civil penalties under the Clean Water Act.

"We intend to prove these violations caused or contributed to the massive oil spill," Attorney General Eric Holder told a news conference.

The amount of damages and the extent of injuries sustained by the United States as a result of the Deepwater Horizon Spill are not yet fully known, the lawsuit states.

An explosion that killed 11 workers at BP's Macondo well last April led to oil spewing from the company's undersea well — more than 200 million gallons in all by the government's estimate. BP disputes the figure.

The department filed the suit in federal court in New Orleans.

The other defendants in the case are Anadarko Exploration & Production LP and Anadarko Petroleum Corp.; MOEX Offshore 2007 LLC; Triton Asset Leasing GMBH; Transocean Holdings LLC and Transocean Offshore Deepwater Drilling Inc. and Transocean Deepwater Inc.; and BP's insurer, QBE Underwriting Ltd./Lloyd's Syndicate 1036.

Anadarko and MOEX are minority owners of the well that blew out. Transocean owned the rig that BP was leasing.


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