US opens criminal probe into Gulf of Mexico oil spill

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Washington, June 2 (ANI): The Obama administration said Tuesday that it had begun civil and criminal investigations into the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

The New York Times quoted Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. as saying in New Orleans that he planned to "prosecute to the fullest extent of the law" any person or entity that the Justice Department determines has broken the law in connection with the oil spill.

British Petroleum and government officials said flatly for the first time that they had abandoned any further plans to try to plug the well, and would instead try to siphon the leaking oil and gas to the surface until relief wells can stop the flow, most likely not before August.

Holder's comments, which echoed those of Obama earlier in the day in the Rose Garden, reflected deepening frustration within the administration at the inability to stop the spill, along with wide concern that the government and the president appear increasingly impotent as oil laps at the shorelines of Louisiana, and now Alabama and Mississippi.

One person briefed on the inquiry said it was in an early stage and that no subpoenas had been issued yet to BP, the owner of the well.

Administration officials said they were reviewing violations of the Clean Water Act, which carries criminal and civil penalties and fines; the Oil Pollution Act of 1990, which can be used to hold parties responsible for cleanup costs; the Migratory Bird Tree Act and the Endangered Species Act, which provide penalties for injury and death of wildlife. (ANI)

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