BP Goes to Court

The largest environmental trial in US history begins March 5, as BP is sued for its 2010 oil spill disaster.

Oil seepage near BP Macondo well
Oil and sheen have been visible in recent months due to seepage near BP's Macondo well (Erika Blumenfeld/Al Jazeera)
New Orleans, LA – It was the largest marine oil disaster in the United States, and now BP’s trial is the largest and most complex environmental lawsuit in US history.

In what is being called by many “The Trial of the Century”, a thousand plaintiffs, a multitude of witnesses, and at least 20,000 exhibits will converge at a US district court in New Orleans, Louisiana, on March 5 for litigation surrounding BP’s oil disaster that began on April 20, 2010, when the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico.

The disaster caused at least 4.9 million barrels of oil to gush into the Gulf, a situation that was compounded by at least 1.9 million gallons of toxic Corexit dispersants used to sink the oil.

Louisiana’s fishing and shrimping industries continue to suffer, large numbers of Gulf residents suffer health problems they blame on BP’s chemicals, and tar balls and destroyed marsh lands persist across much of the affected areas of the Gulf Coast.

US President Barack Obama, two months after the blowout, referred to it as “the worst environmental disaster America has ever faced”.

The first of this three-phase trial will focus on litigation around the Clean Water Act and Oil Spill Pollution Act, in order to determine BP’s liability, and whether the oil giant’s behaviour around the accident was grossly or criminally negligent.

Read the full story at Al Jazeera English.