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BP Challenges Oil Spill Amount In An Attempt to Reduce Cost of Fines

BP is aggressively challenging the government’s estimate of the oil spill in the Gulf, because that final number will determine how much they’ll owe in fines:

BP’s lawyers are arguing that the government overstated the spill by 20 to 50 percent, staffers working for the presidential oil spill commission said Friday. In a 10-page document obtained by The Associated Press, BP says the government’s spill estimate of 206 million gallons is “overstated by a significant amount” and the company said any consensus around that number is premature and inaccurate.

The company submitted the document to the commission, the Justice Department and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

“They rely on incomplete or inaccurate information, rest in large part on assumptions that have not been validated, and are subject to far greater uncertainties than have been acknowledged,” BP wrote. “BP fully intends to present its own estimate as soon as the information is available to get the science right.”

This is just comical, and proves where the priorities are within BP. The most important number for the company who claims to be committed to restoring the Gulf is not number of dead wildlife, or illnesses and fatalities from Gulf residents, but the amount of oil spilled, because a reduction in that number will reduce their financial exposure by billions.

Well, they have a fiduciary duty to shareholders, right, so that trumps discomfort with sociopathy, I guess. Still, the number that concerns me the most is not 206 million gallons, it’s 80. As in 80-mile kill zone.

A mile below the surface in the Gulf of Mexico, there is little sign of life.

“It looks like everything’s dead,” University of Georgia professor Samantha Joye said.

In an exclusive trip aboard the U.S. Navy’s deep-ocean research submersible Alvin, ABC News was given the chance to observe the impact of this summer’s massive oil spill that most will never see.

The ocean floor appears to be littered with twigs, but Joye points out that they are actually dead worms and that Alvin is sitting on top of what is considered an 80-square mile kill zone.

The oil is actually all there for the counting. No bacteria ate it. It has settled at the bottom of the Gulf, and it’s devastating the local ecosystem.

In case you were wondering.

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David Dayen

David Dayen