Justice Department launches oil spill probe

May 24, 2010 4:31:06 PM PDT
Even after working 24-7 on the broken oil well in the Gulf, oil is still gushing from the underwater well.

On Monday, BP learned it is facing an investigation from the Justice Department. That comes just days after the government said it is prepared to take over.

The U.S. Department of Justice investigation is a spot the feds have been in before. It's not uncommon in massive accidents like this for them to look at the company for violations of environmental law or covering up mistakes.

Inside BP's Houston headquarters, this likely isn't too much of a surprise. ABC News is reporting the Justice Department is telling BP to save all of its documents related to the Deepwater Horizon disaster for a possible future criminal investigation.

"There will be all sorts of investigations following this, quite rightly, and we will deal with those as they come," BP CEO Tony Heyward said.

It may, however, be a faster, tougher and politically popular way to get BP to admit it made mistakes.

"No one will go to jail," KTRK Legal Analyst Joel Androphy said. "It's just another extraction of billions of dollars from BP."

It is a sign of growing federal involvement though more than a month into a spill that the oil giant simply can't stop.

"We will keep our boot on their neck until the job gets done," U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said.

On Monday, Salazar continued his tough talk directed towards the company. On Sunday, he said the federal government was getting so frustrated it is considering taking the response over.

"If we find that they're not doing what they're supposed to be doing, we'll push them out of the way, appropriately," Salazar said on Sunday.

"We're all frustrated, but that doesn't mean that they're not doing everything that's possible," Oil Industry Consultant Ken Arnold said.

Arnold is an oil industry consultant not connected to the spill or the cleanup.

He says pushing BP aside isn't possible; the feds just don't have the knowledge or the technology to do it on their own.

When we asked Arnold what the government would do differently, he responded, "That's the whole point -- they would do the same thing BP is doing."

On Monday, Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen, who's in charge of the cleanup, said the same thing: He will watch BP's every move, but the company simply can't be moved aside. He added there is no reason to make a change.


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