White House supports "significantly lifting" oil-spill liability cap

08:24, May 06, 2010      

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The White House would support " significantly lifting" a 75 million dollars cap on companies responsible for oil spills, spokesman Robert Gibbs said on Wednesday.

"We would be in favor of significantly lifting that cap," Gibbs told a news briefing, but did not specify if the White House accepted the 10 billion dollars limit.

"I don't have a specific number. I would reiterate, that as the president said, BP is going to get a bill for the recovery, the cleanup and the damage it's caused."

Under a law introduced after the Exxon Valdez oil tanker disaster in Alaska in 1989, oil companies are bound by law to pay for the full clean-up and containment costs of any oil seeping from their facilities after an accident. But the legislation caps the damages for which the firm is liable at 75 million dollars unless the company is guilty of "gross negligence."

One bill by Democratic Senator Bill Nelson of Florida, which is being discussed in Congress, would fix the cap at 10 billion dollars. U.S. Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid said on Wednesday that he supported the proposal.

An explosion occurred on April 20 at the Deepwater Horizon rig, located about 42 km southeast of Venice, Louisiana. Eleven workers were killed.

The rig, owned by Transocean and leased by BP, sank on April 22 after burning for roughly 36 hours, and the untapped wellhead is gushing oil into the Gulf of Mexico.



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