BP Plc was sued by Veracruz and two other Mexican coastal states over alleged losses stemming from the company’s 87-day oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
The states claim that the financial damages from the spill, set off by the explosion and sinking of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig in April, will grow, said attorney Enrique Serna, who represents Veracruz, Quintana Roo and Tamaulipas. Those states include the industrial hub of Veracruz and the tourist-beach centers of Cancun and Cozumel on the Yucatan Peninsula.
“The three states have accrued a good amount of damages as a result of the spill,” Serna said today in a phone interview from San Antonio, where the suits were filed in federal court. As cold fronts move into the area, the underwater plume of oil generated by spill will invade Mexico’s fishing waters in the Gulf and possibly its shores, he said.
The lawsuits, filed yesterday, are the first brought by foreign governments in a U.S. federal court over the spill, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. BP faces about 400 lawsuits in connection with the largest offshore oil spill in U.S. history, with claims that include economic loss, environmental damage and personal injuries and deaths.
The Mexican states also sued Transocean Ltd., owner of the Deepwater Horizon rig, and contractors Halliburton Co. and Cameron International Corp.
Daren Beaudo, a BP spokesman, didn’t immediately respond to phone or e-mail messages seeking comment. Lou Colasuonno, a Transocean spokesman, declined to comment.
Oceanographers who studied the spill for the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico predict that currents and wind will bring the oil to the Mexican coastlines in October and November, according to the lawsuits.
While the oil hasn’t yet reached Mexican waters, the state governments claim they’ve already incurred expenses for protective measures, stockpiling of supplies, scientific sampling and “mock clean-up activities.”
Once the oil reaches Mexico, the states will seek compensation for cleanup costs, economic losses and damage to natural resources, as well as punitive damages, according to the complaints.
The states also will seek damages for expected cancellations at coastal resorts during Mexico’s peak winter tourist season, according to the complaints. Quintana Roo’s lawsuit also seeks compensation for harm to the state’s drinking water supply, which is partly drawn from processed sea water.
The cases are State of Veracruz v. BP, 5:10-cv-00761; State of Tamaulipas v. BP, 5:10-cv-00762; and State of Quintana Roo v. BP, 5:10-cv-00763, all in U.S. District Court, Western District of Texas (San Antonio).