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With a high stakes civil trial between the federal government and oil giant BP gets under way.
This morning nearly three years after that deadly rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico.
That triggered the worst offshore oil spill in the nation's history.
Casey Stegall live outside in the VI courthouse in New Orleans on this for us today -- -- what's going up -- -- -- About the court just started about an hour ago at the federal courthouse here in new Orleans back here behind me in this trial.
Is going to last very long and there's a lot of money at stake there's a potential that this could last well into the fall.
And it's really broken down into two phases phase one is what started today.
And that is primarily going to focus on the events leading up to the accident itself.
What -- the natural gas to leak from that well back in April 2010.
How do -- reach the deck of the deep water horizon and explode and why did the drilling rig sink killing eleven people.
-- the plaintiffs arguing it was gross negligence on behalf of BP and its partners that there was willful misconduct.
And then the second phase which starts in September.
Will focus on BP's response to the incident and exactly how much oil was spilled.
Because that will help determine the fines here.
-- -- grossly negligent the penalty is over 54000.
Dollars per barrel -- you're not grossly negligent then that's a little over a thousand so.
Those two factors combined.
Is why you get these these wide variations.
The federal government is estimated some four point nine million barrels of oil went into the Gulf of Mexico with this three month ordeal.
Martha BP contends that month that number.
Is a lot lower.
How much money is at stake here Casey and who stands to get what.
Well -- gross negligence as you heard him talking about is proven the fines can go upwards of eighteen.
Billion dollars billion.
And that payout would be essentially to thousands of parties the federal government the Gulf Coast states.
And also the people like fishermen and businesses that were crippled by this bill.
And join the lawsuit on top of that there could be billions more in punitive damages but frankly.
Those in charge of cleaning up to this day say it's simply not enough to get the gulf back.
To where it was before this whole mess.
We know that BP's oil is still in this ecosystem we find it after -- of every storm event.
-- expose a heck of a lot of BP's oil we -- about twenty miles of Louisiana's coastline.
Closed down because the oil that was there we found it in the bay that we hadn't seen it such levels before.
BP has already paid some four billion dollars in fines for the criminal side of things Martha.
What a story that's going to be Casey thank you very much so yeah.
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