Criminal Charges Likely In Oil Spill, Legal Experts Say

"Federal investigators are likely to file criminal charges against at least one of the companies involved in the Gulf of Mexico spill," McClatchy Newspapers writes.

"Environmental law experts say it's just a matter of time until the Justice Department steps in — if it hasn't already — to initiate a criminal inquiry and take punitive action," McClatchy adds. Even "an accidental oil spill of this magnitude could at least result in misdemeanor negligence charges," according to McClatchy.

As Frank reported yesterday, congressional investigators are already turning up what they say is evidence that there were significant problems with equipment installed by the companies working the rig (primarily BP and Transocean), which exploded and sank on April 20.

On Morning Edition, NPR's Peter Overby followed up that news of the congressional inquiries:

"A leaky hydraulic system, incomplete records and a dead battery all became parts of the Deepwater Horizon story as a House investigative subcommittee revealed new details about the oil-rig explosion that set off the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico," Peter reported. "Lawmakers zeroed in on the Deepwater Horizon's blowout preventer, a huge assembly of metal, hydraulics and wiring that's supposed to stop a blowout when it happens if not sooner."

Here's his story:



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