Gulf water tests and another lawsuit pending in spill

FILE - In this May 2, 2010 file photo, commercial fishermen hired by BP PLC lay oil booms in preparation for the looming oil spill from the sinking of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig in Gulf of Mexico, off the coast of Louisiana. Few studies have examined long-term health effects of oil exposure. But some of the workers trolling Gulf Coast beaches and heading out into the marshes and waters have complained about flu-like symptoms _ a similar complaint among crews deployed for the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File)

June 3, 2010 1:14:32 PM PDT
As more water samples from the Gulf of Mexico arrived at the Lawrence Berkeley national lab for testing, the Center for Biological Diversity filed its second legal action of the week in response to the Gulf oil spill. Today it formally notified BP of its intent to file suit under the Clean Water Act.

"BP has shown that it lacks the capability to stop this massive leak, and the federal government is waiting and watching" said Miyoko Sakashita, oceans director for the Center for Biological Diversity in San Francisco. "The Clean Water Act provides for citizen enforcement when the polluter and government fail to act, and we intend to seek the maximum penalty possible against BP."

The Clean Water Act permits the government to pursue an enforcement action and to seek fines against BP.

Two days ago, the same environmental group sent a similar letter to the United States Coast Guard, and the Environmental Protection Agency, for authorizing the use of toxic dispersants without ensuring that these chemicals would not harm endangered species and their habitats.

More water samples from the Gulf arrived in Berkeley Thursday morning for testing. The first such samples came in yesterday. Dr. Terry Hazen will be running biodegradation tests on the samples. They were taken from various locations in and near the spill. Hazen will be looking for signs of the oil as well as the chemical dispersant that is being used to break it up. He has expressed concern over the use of dispersants on this scale noting that in the past spill areas treated by dispersants took much longer to recover than those that were not.