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Gulf oil spill: Attorney general opens criminal and civil investigations into disaster

June 1, 2010 |  2:45 pm

Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. said Tuesday that federal authorities have opened criminal and civil investigations into the nation's worst oil spill.

He described the damage to "miles and miles of coastline" as "heartbreaking to see" and pledged that anyone responsible for the disaster should be prosecuted to the "fullest extent of the law."

Speaking at a New Orleans news conference, Holder said that "we must also ensure that anyone responsible for the spill is held accountable."

"This we must never forget," he said of the 11 lives lost in the disaster. "I want to assure the American people that we will not forget the price that those workers paid."

Holder said the investigation, which has been active for weeks, will be meticulous, comprehensive and aggressive. He would not identify the parties involved in the investigation, but said he believes there
is "sufficient evidence for a criminal investigation."

Holder said the top priority by the Obama administration is to stop the oil from gushing into the Gulf of Mexico, and that the Justice Department will act in a way that won't detract from cleanup efforts.

-- Nicole Santa Cruz in New Orleans