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Gulf oil spill: BP accepts responsibility for oil cleanup

May 3, 2010 |  8:15 am

BP, the oil company at the heart of what was likely the nation’s worst oil disaster, said on Monday it would pay for the cleanup costs connected to the massive oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico.

In a round of appearances on morning television and radio news shows, BP Chief Executive Tony Hayward accepted responsibility for the cleanup and said the company would pay compensation for legitimate claims for property damage, personal injury and business losses.

“We are responsible, not for the accident, but we are responsible for the oil and for dealing with it and cleaning the situation up,” Hayward said.

The original accident took place April 20 on a deep-water rig operating about 130 miles southeast of New Orleans. The rig sank two days later, and 11 were believed dead.

Oil began leaking from the wellhead, pouring at least 5,000 barrels of oil into the gulf waters, though some estimates have place the flow from three leaks at much more. The leading edge of the oil has reached Louisiana wetlands and is expected to make landfall in the next days.

Throughout the weekend, federal officials led by President Obama have stressed that BP will be responsible for the cleanup and for capping the leaking well.

On Monday, Hayward acknowledged that his company would be responsible for the cleanup, expected to cost billions of dollars. But he was careful to contend that the original accident was the fault of offshore drilling contractor Transocean Ltd., which operated the rig that sank.

“We will await all the facts before drawing conclusions, and we will not speculate,” a spokesman for Transocean said.

The original accident and the oil leaks also are being investigated by the federal government.

Hayward explained in his appearances that the company was working below the surface to cap the leaks from the well, some 5,000 feet underwater. BP is also working on the surface to control the leak with chemicals to disperse the oil and has an active effort underway to place booms to contain the spread of the spill.

-- Michael Muskal
Twitter.com/LATimesmuskal

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