Texas’s attorney general asked BP Plc for $25 million to clean up oil that has washed up on the state’s coastline since the explosion of a rig in the Gulf of Mexico triggered the worst oil spill in U.S. history.
“While we do not yet know -- and cannot yet calculate -- the ultimate damage this ecological and economic disaster will inflict upon the state of Texas, we do know that BP will be held fully financially accountable for the costs incurred by the taxpayers,” Attorney General Greg Abbott said today in a statement.
The Deepwater Horizon rig blew up in April, killing 11 people and discharging a gusher of oil into the gulf. Clots of oil from the runaway well, known as tar balls, appeared on beaches of Galveston Island yesterday. Five gallons of tar balls have washed ashore so far, Abbott said, citing state agencies monitoring the beaches.
“We will of course take a look at their proposal and work with the state on any impacts associated with the spill from the Deepwater Horizon accident,’’ Daren Beaudo, a BP spokesman, said in an e-mail today. “Cleaning up oil spilled as a result of this incident is our responsibility.’’
Beaudo said the U.S. Coast Guard, which is managing BP’s response to the spill, tested the Galveston tar balls and concluded they most likely were brought to Texas by ships instead of drifting from Louisiana on ocean currents.
“It was confirmed that the oil was Deepwater Horizon, but very fresh, not consistent with weathered oil reaching Texas from the well site,’’ Beaudo said. “Suspicion is that it travelled in ships’ ballast or on hulls on the approach’’ to the Houston Ship Channel, which cuts the coastline at the east end of Galveston Island, he said.
BP, which has primary responsibility as owner of the well, has said it will pay all cleanup costs and legitimate damage claims. Abbott said he contacted the London-based company’s Houston offices this morning “to ensure that BP fulfills its promises.”
The company has made similar block grants to the four other Gulf Coast states for cleaning beaches, marshes and coastal waters, Abbott said.
The attorney general said he also asked Kenneth Feinberg, administrator of the $20 billion BP oil-spill damages fund, to open a claims office in Texas.